by Darwin Antunez Ramos
(Editor's note: The following is a statement from Darwin, who is detained at the Adelanto Detention Center, as told to his attorney)
I am being intensely harassed for participating in the organizing of a hunger strike. I am being accused of being a leader of the hunger strike and they want to keep me repressed.
I was playing soccer on Saturday, April 20, 2019. The ball was kicked over the fence by accident. Everyone asked the official keeping watch to bring the ball back. This is the same official that harasses me. He was on shift in the soccer field that day.
Usually, officials fetch the ball and give it back but he didn’t want to. He said, “Eat shit” and told us to go fetch it ourselves. But obviously we can’t because there’s a barbed wire fence.
We were a group of Indians, Africans, and Latinos and some of them said to me that if there was no ball, that we should all go to the dormitory. Half the group (Latinos) beckoned me and said, “Let’s go back to the dormitory.” I was in the middle of the field so I relayed the same message to the others who were still waiting for the ball. I said to them, “Let’s go because there will be no ball.”
Most people didn’t want to tell me the name of the official but an African detainee told me his name is Aragon. He wears a uniform, a light blue shirt and navy blue pants. He is a tan skinned “moreno” Latino.
The official then said, “Pinche mierda, veni a decir lo que has dicho a mi cara. Te ordeno que vengas pinche maricon.” This translates to, “Fucking shit, come say what you just said to my face. I order you to come here, fucking faggot.” He said this in front of everyone.
I walked towards the official with my hands behind my back. I asked him, “Why do you treat us like this when not even the American himself doesn’t treat us like you do?” In that moment he talked into his walkie talkie and three more guards arrived.
I returned to the group. Everyone in the group stayed to watch and are witnesses to what happened.
A white captain, who is a sergeant, who wears a white shirt, who is also a Latino who discriminates against other Latinos, said that “if I had such balls,” that I should show them to him. Then he began screaming in English. I asked to speak to him in Spanish because I couldn’t understand English. For 15 minutes, this sergeant verbally abused me in both languages.
The members of my dormitory, who are about 100, got closer. Many of them said, “What’s the problem? All we want is to go to the dormitory.” The sergeant in the white shirt began to intimidate those who were speaking up. He said this to them in English so I couldn’t understand, but I was later told he threatened to press charges on them because “everything is in my favor.”
The officials took everyone to the dorm room, except for me. They took me to another yard with another guard of higher ranking. I was shocked as the official Aragon began to accuse me of aggressively trying to hit him and that I had aggressively gotten the ball to try to hurt him and that’s why the ball landed on the other side of the fence and this is why he didn’t want to go fetch the ball on the other side of the fence. The officer of highest ranking asked the Latino officer in the white shirt, the one who had yelled at me about what he saw when he got to the yard, “What was happening when you arrived?”
He lied and and said that when he arrived it looked like I was trying to hit the official, Aragon. He said when he arrived, I distanced himself from Aragon to appear as if I was not trying to hit him. In that moment, I asked him why was he also lying? I told them I was 50 feet from the official, Aragon. I was in line behind about 40 people to exit the yard and return to the dormitory.
All of the officials are in agreement and they don’t let me talk.
I believe I am being retaliated against by Aragon. Aragon has a shift inside my dormitory. Since I arrived in Adelanto, Aragon has harassed me. Aragon insinuates that I am gay. When I am alone or in bed, he’ll say, “How are you, my babygirl?” or “How are you, my love?” He’s been doing this in particular for a very long time. He walks around with a tight shirt on.
One day he said to me, “How delicious it would be if you sucked on my chest,” as he grabbed onto his pectoral muscles. Then he said, “But it would be more delicious if you sucked on my penis.” This happened within the last month.
Last week, during the last shift Aragon had in my dormitory, he asked me, “What would you do for two hamburgers?” I responded, “Why are you asking me? Because you already know that they are for eating.” Aragon then said to me, “I would be willing to give you two hamburgers for a blowjob.” (As Darwin was sharing this story with his lawyer, he began to break into tears.)
I responded by saying, “This is the last time you will talk to me this way because I am going to talk to my lawyers.” Aragon said to me, “I swear if you say something, I will ruin you in court.”
He threatened me by saying that if I say anything, that I will regret it. His last shift, the day that happened, ended at 5 pm. That’s around when dinner arrives. Even though it’s our job to serve each other (as detained individuals), Aragon insists on serving us the food. I got in line for dinner. When I got close to him to receive my food, Aragon said to me, “Babygirl, why are you crying? Here, eat your shit,” as he handed me a plate of food. In protest of what he said to me, I went straight to the trash bin to dump the food as everyone else watched.
What they are doing with me, they are doing with everybody. But everyone is too scared to speak out because they are worried it will affect their case. This happened last week, before the series of events that happened on Saturday, April 20, 2019. This is why I think everything that happened on Saturday is a show because he is scared for the truth to be exposed.
There are two dormitories that I know of where sexual abuse is happening. The one I am in and the one called “Alpha” where more sexual abuse is happening. Two officials began raping detained individuals with impunity so other detainees have begun to rape as well.
I began organizing hunger strikes for our quarantine to be lifted and for us to receive food on dignified plates because they serve us food as if we are animals, on disposable plates, where all the food gets mixed into a mess. I’ve organized hunger strikes since the first quarantine we were placed in. Rather than be placed in quarantine, we should all be receiving vaccines.
I am not participating in a hunger strike right now. When they put us in the second quarantine, the hunger strike had already been organized but didn’t actually begin because the top sergeant went to talk with my dormitory.
Why do they want to keep us isolated? Vaccines exist for a reason. They should be providing us with vaccines so we can continue with our court proceedings.
The sergeant promised to fixed the quarantine issue but nothing happened. None of our demands have been met. Before the first quarantine, a pipe broke in my dormitory and there was a flood in there.
I’ve been verbally sexually assaulted since I arrived. The majority of officials don’t respect asylum seekers. Aragon is the only one who sexually assaults me. I have weeks of being sick and I haven’t seen a doctor, despite requesting medical attention. I have a high fever and my bones hurt. I almost can’t eat. My throat is very swollen. When I was interrogated over the past three or four days, I have told the officials, “I am too sick to do this.” They told me, “We don’t care. We want to fix this issue from the yard. You must pay.” They tell me they are going to charge me. On Sunday, they took away my commissary and my yard time.
In my dormitory, some Africans speak Portuguese and I also speak some Portuguese. Some of them have expressed shock at how I am being targeted. They are witnesses. They want to do a hunger strike so that my commissary and yard time will be returned. They tell me they are ready to support me in whichever way because they know what I am being accused of is false.
If I don’t appeal the incident that happened within 15 days of April 20, 2019, I will be charged.
I keep telling the officials to show footage. The officials tell me, "Don’t be stupid or disobedient. There are no cameras out there.” I don’t know the names of these officers because they won’t give me names. Why don’t they talk to anyone in the dormitory?
An officer here in Adelanto told me I am being targeted and am being repressed. He asked me not to share his name because he could lose his job. Last night he told me, “Look Ramos, I promise as soon as I get off my shift I will go to the infirmary to ask them to see you because you have been sick for too long without being seen.”
This morning I was sent to the infirmary. They didn’t want to give me any medicine until the test results come out. I was given just one Tylenol. On a scale of 1 to 10, one being the least amount of pain and 10 being the highest, I am at a nine. I am in extreme body pain. I have a fever, chronic pain, and my head hurts. My throat is swollen. I’ve been sick for about two weeks. I’ve seen nurses here before. They are mostly Latinas and are arrogant. They will tell you, “You don’t have anything. I know what you’re up to here.”
This last week has been the hardest on my health because of the interrogations. They are not interviews like this one. They scream in my face.
This is hell on earth. No one wants to live. Everyone is traumatized. The judges are not accessible. Almost everyone has been denied asylum. Nobody knows what to do. We have been informed we have two months to be eligible for bond and then after that it won’t be available anymore. The majority of people here are lost. Many who seek political asylum here, who have been tortured, have been denied asylum.
I am not suicidal. I have decided that my struggle does not end here. Share my story. Everything you can imagine happens here. Sexual assault, lies, mistreatment. Everything has happened to me except for solitary confinement or being sent to the West facility where they keep criminals. They tell me I have not been sent there because I am in quarantine but they will when I am taken out of quarantine.
They don’t want to listen. Here we are not humans — we are objects of value that generate money for them. Not even one of them treats me well. They hate that I am courteous to them. I am Christian, I fear God. I cannot disrespect man before God. Even if they violate my human rights, I continue to respect these men before God. Before them, my words are empty.
I keep requesting cameras. They don’t want to show footage. They want to remove me from the dormitory because they think I am a leader. They think everything happening in regards to organizing in my dormitory is because of me. They’ve taken repressive measures because of this and my abuser is scared. He sexually abuses others but everyone is too scared. This is why they support me. Everyone wanted to start a hunger strike today for me because of the injustice. I didn’t want them to start a hunger strike because I wanted to consult with someone first.
There’s a rumor that Adelanto is about to receive a surprise visit by California human rights advocates so the Adelanto staff have been cleaning more than usual.
They are scared I will talk when they visit so they are trying to isolate me. Last time a human rights advocate visited, we were all sent to our dormitories so we wouldn’t have contact. When they entered the dormitory and I got the chance, I said, “They are violating our human rights.” Officials shut me up and said if I said that again, they would press charges against me. During that visit, the human rights visitors did not have the authority to speak to us.
The people here are lost. They are mostly in bed or they get out of bed to briefly walk around. People don’t even watch television any more. Many of us are extremely sick and are not receiving medical attention.
We are forced into fire drills at 12 am or 2 am in the morning, when it is really cold outside. These are not fire drill protocols; this is more like punishment.
When I was told I had a visitor today and I walked over here, I felt like I was going to faint. I saw white light in my vision. During our time talking, I’ve received threatening looks from officers walking by, peering through the window.
I want justice. Whatever happens, must happen. Do what you have to do. I am not scared. I am only scared of God.
My body just wants to sleep.
For further information you may contact Darwin's attorney:Wallie Mason Transnational Immigration Alliance (323) firstname.lastname@example.org