May 27, 2005 – A federal judge has ordered the US Department of Homeland Security to release a former Kurdish human and civil rights activist-turned Michigan restaurateur after holding him for nearly 10 months in jail as a suspected terrorist.
On May 20, United States District Court Judge Avern Cohn ruled that Turkish native Ibrahim Parlak, whose story The NewStandard has previously reported in detail, is a lawful, permanent resident of the United States. Judge Cohn added that Parlak has been a "model immigrant," has "lived an exemplary life" and has developed close ties within his community since immigrating in 1991.
Cohn stated that Parlak "is not a threat to anyone nor a risk of flight" and called Parlak's detention "unreasonable."
Parlak says Turkish officials tortured and imprisoned him for activities on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) during the late 1980s. Parlak insists he was never a member of the PKK, though he had connections with the partyâ€™s unarmed, political wing. The PKK was not listed as a terrorist group until years after Parlak came to the US.
Parlak says his political work in Turkey was focused on gaining rights for the Kurdish people, who were so oppressed that speaking the Kurdish language or practicing Kurdish culture was a crime punishable by imprisonment and even death.
DHS officials have ten days to appeal Cohn's decision and are still free to pursue Parlakâ€™s deportation.