Dangerous Lies and Threats: UPDATED

February 27, 2011

You are a human being. You have rights inherent in that reality. You have dignity and worth that exists prior to law. ~Lyn Beth Neylon

Look at history and you will find that any civil and human rights reform movement had opponents trying to stop the momentum of the movements in attempts to preserve their perceived political, economic and social interests; division within ranks; and threats or acts of violence. We have witnessed all of these elements over the last few decades as foreign contract workers and nonresidents in CNMI who have been striving to earn respect and to be accepted as equal community members.

A gruesome death threat was made against a worker leader and his family yesterday. Why? Because the caller disagreed with nonresidents fighting for their political and social rights, fighting to be lifted out of indentured servitude, fighting to be treated as humans rather than as labor units, and fighting for respect and dignity. There is a wave of anti-worker sentiment in the CNMI community that is supported by the current Administration, elected leaders and people in the community who possess power and money.

The increase of anti-worker sentiment is not surprising since the leaders of the CNMI have publicly made racist and xenophobic and inappropriate remarks about the foreign workers over the years, and in recent weeks. The CNMI Senate created a draft report that was deceptive, containing vast amounts of misinformation, and withholding vital testimonies.

When officials consistently lie and attempt to minimize the impact and significance of thousands of documented labor, human and civil rights abuses of the foreign contract workers they send a dangerous message to the community. They are untruthfully telling the voters and residents in the CNMI's privileged class in the two-tiered society that these nonresident workers and their advocates are not truthful in their claims of abuses. They are telling them that the abuses will be ignored so feel free to continue to steal wages, and otherwise abuse the nonresidents. They are telling them that in the CNMI the law is applied in one way to residents and in another to nonresidents.

These officials are also sending a frightening message to the nonresidents. They are telling the nonresidents, the disenfranchised and oppressed members of the un-privileged class in the CNMI's two-tiered society, that they deserve to be dehumanized. They are telling the nonresidents and the thousands of victims of the abuses that they are not worthy of having their cases resolved, not deserving to have their back wages paid, and not meaningful enough to see their criminal employers prosecuted for the crimes committed against them. They are telling the nonresidents that the devastation and suffering of thousands of victims and families caused by the abuses and lack of enforcement of laws is so insignificant that bold lawmakers can pretend it did not exist in an official report that they plan to submit to the U.S. Congress.

Is it really surprising that there is so much misunderstanding and hatred as evidenced in daily anti-worker comments published in the Marianas Variety and some published on this blog? Is it surprising that there has been a frightening death threat?

When elected officials such as Senator Reyes, play the victim card, they also promote misunderstanding and division. To proclaim that the Senator was "hurt" because the nonresidents did not embrace a disingenuous and deceptive draft Senate report in which the legislators tossed the token FAS-type status crumb to the nonresident workers was also a divisive tactic. To suggest that nonresidents show disrespect if they exert their rights of freedom of speech and freedom to assemble to promote social and political justice is not true.  Such ignorant notions also promotes confusion and division. To suggest that the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are in any way disrespectful also show ignorance of the U.S. Constitution, and the very principles upon which our nation was established.

Freedom of speech is a universal human right that should never be challenged as a show of disrespect. Justice William J. Brennan stated in 1982:  "The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to "create" rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting."

It is wrong for anyone to have opposed the march conducted by nonresidents, advocates and supporters as a show of disrespect.  It is in no way respectful to uphold disenfranchisement and oppression of a large segment of any society, or to expect people to stay silent when officials blatantly lie or withhold information to the detriment of a huge segment of society. The untrue claims that marchers or protesters were "disrespectful" to the senators and "locals" for exercising their First Amendment rights promoted division, suspicion and misunderstanding in the community.

When elected officials and lawmakers are untruthful, deceptive, promote propaganda and withhold information their actions negatively impact the entire community. Political games like these poison peoples' hearts minds and spirits. Their lies empower those prone to violence to act violently; those prone not to investigate the facts, but to take the words of their "leaders" at face value to spread and support the lie; and are responsible for the growth of the misunderstandings and divisions.

If elected officials are untruthful, lack integrity, and fail to support the law, then we can expect that citizens will feel justified in following their lead. Elected officials must set an example. They need to stop the corruption, stop the lies, stop the propaganda and work for what is good for all the people who call the CNMI their home.


The Marianas Variety and Saipan Tribune published the story of this threat.  Reading the comments on the Marianas Variety story is very revealing and very depressing.  There were many community members who excused the person who threatened to dismember and kill another human being and his family, and then suggested that Rabby made up this story!  This shows the depth of the hatred in the CNMI community. It is really a sad commentary.

The threat was real. The call was put on speaker phone when Rabby realized it was a threat, and there is a witness who grabbed the phone and also talked to the caller. Should I publish the phone number? (I have it.) The name of the woman who the phone is registered to? (I know that too. I did a search and found who it was.) The last name of the caller? (Rabby told me what his last name was. He didn't catch his first name.) The caller called back when the police were interviewing Rabby and then hung up. Of course, they saw the phone number in the cell phone because it was not even blocked.

Here are some of the comments from CNMI community members:
"#14 Completely Amazed March 01, 2011 06:31PM Not sure what to believe here. So many haters on this site, sounds like it sure could be true. But then again…It sure does sound suspect. If it's true…Coward, grow up and stop hating. If this is fake…Grow up, your cause is important enough without fake death threats."
Wow. I am completely amazed that a person would tell a victim to "grow up." Really? He should "grow up" because a crazy person threatened to kill him and his family, and he reported it?

Here's another:
What say you? I say this: Are you serious? Of course the phone number was recorded on the cell phone and was shown to the police officer! Why would someone even suggest this?

And another:
"#9 talala March 01, 2011 06:14PM I think this guy is lying and is doing it for attention. Plus, he probably thinks that by doing so they stand a better chance in having the citizenship. At today's technology, only a fool will do that."
No wonder this person posts comments under a fake name. Who would admit to posting this? What a mean-spirited and hateful suggestion and comment. Rabby is not a fool.

Do these commenters even consider the feelings of his wife and children? Do they lack empathy? Are they so filled with hatred that they cannot even understand that there are laws that should be upheld. Regardless of whether we agree or disagree with a person's political views or opinions, we should all agree that no one should be threatened!

And another:
"#1 saipan March 01, 2011 05:37PM Looks like Syed enjoys publicity. Now he wants to use the Local Police and the Feds for protection. Syed, you should stop what you are doing for the nonresident workers and take care of your family first. Your family needs you also. OH, why don't you just tell the police and the feds the person's name, because you know who call you."
What person would enjoy a scary phone call in which the caller threatens to kill him and his family? In fact, he did tell them the person's name.

And this one:
"#16 cnmipride777 March 01, 2011 07:32PM Mr Syed has nothing to fear, if in fact he did receive such silly threats. If a person doesn't have the balls to say it to his face, then there is no credence to it.

Despite his and allies attempts to liken the CNMI to the old segregated South, there are no hate groups here. Even the short lived Taotaotano, which some might try to label as a hate group, eventually petered out, due mostly inpart to the nonsensical ramblings of its supposed leader.

You have nothing to fear Mr. Syed. You can continue on your unchecked plans of painting a dark distorted picture of the CNMI. Lord knows you and Wendy Know-It-All did a great job in deceiving the ignorant bureaucrats in DC that rampant abuses exist here. You're lucky that the people here are more affable then their native American/Hawaiian brethren to really put up a resistance."
Pride you may have, but not many facts. All of the abuses are documented. The denials are getting old, and they do not fool anyone. But keep repeating those lies to convince yourself.

Thankfully, there were some commenters who showed disgust with the attacker instead of attacking the victim, like this one:
"P#-6 stopthelies March 01, 2011 12:50PM This is disgustingly shameful. I hope this caller gets a visit from the FBI and gets thrown in pen fed. You can disagree with a person's views without threatening his life. Rabby is a peaceful, loving family man who advocates change through peaceful methods.
To the person who made this threat, grow a spine. And a brain while you're at it. You are a yellow-bellied coward."
I do not know how any person could defend a person who threatens to violently kill another person. I do not understand why people would turn it around to attack a victim.  I am sickened by this.  This happened to my family when we lived on Rota. I still have over a dozen police complaints that were filed against people who threatened us (some in front of witnesses), destroyed property, and committed other crimes. Not one person was arrested. I doubt that there will be justice in this case. At least one would think people would decry such violent threats and stand with the victim and his family.


the teacher said...

Everyone here has a freedom of speech, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government, local or federal, to address grievences, which may include improving their status.

The administration, the Fitial admin that is, supports FAS type status because it is just like the ol status quo that has been fostered here for years.

Captain said...

This may be starting to follow the beginnings of the Civil rights problems in the early days in the South.
The few that may start to trend towards threats and/ or violence had better be aware.
Any of these type of actions can be (is) construed as civil rights abuses and if it is, that is a Fed charge that is taken very seriously, especially more so when against minorities.
The first violent incident would possibly bring a response from the Feds that will bring further unwanted repercussions with a ripple effect on down the line from both the DC Feds and current and future investors.
Any action also would most likely make world news that would further tarnish the already tarnished image of the CNMI.
This would not be handled by the local cop-shop that could "taint" any evidence" because of family connection, nor would it be prosecuted by the local politically influenced courts.
I hope that the DC Feds. get some kind of Regs. out before something of that nature erupts.
Many do not agree on some of the issues but best be calm and collected.
This applies equally to both sides.
Any of this decent should be directed at the elected and many business and families, including the present Gov. who was previously involved and created the situations that brought on the present problems from the inception of the guest worker program.
These CW were requested or told to stay and have their contracts renewed. The original law was changed to allow the extensions past the three year original limit along with many other originaly "required" requirements by the CW and employers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Captain.

the teacher said...

PS I hope whoever was threatened has already turned this over to federal authorities.

Anonymous said...

There is a mistaken belief that the Bill of Rights applies only to citizens. Actually, it applies to anyone on US soil (and some outside US soil). Many right-wing nutjobs in the mainland US are flabbergasted when they hear this, and claim it's liberal revisionism, etc. I can only imagine the same is true here, where most of those who became US citizens never learned the basics of Constitutional rights. (Other shocking fact that the anti-immigration crowd refuses to believe: "illegal" immigrants are generally not guilty of any crimes, only of administrative/civil/regulatory violations... they are "illegal" in the same way anyone who's ever gotten a parking ticket is "illegal.") But making threats, that's really illegal!

Wendy said...

Thank you 8:11

Yes, this is illegal and it has been reported to DPS and the FBI. They know who called because the victim gave the police and FBI the phone number and name of the person. This time if the assaulter is NOT arrested, and I mean quickly (TODAY) so this dangerous person is taken off of the streets, then I will take this to officials in the CIvil Rights Division of the USAG,to my friends in the U.S. Congress, to DOI where some of the funding for the DPS comes from, and to every major news outlet in the United States. If nothing is done, I will expose this person outright myself. I am sick of the victims remaining victims and the attackers and crooks (including every employer who stole from the guest workers' pay and never paid them back) walking around. Until now the DPS has not contacted the victim and the entire family is TERRIFIED. They know who this person is because he shares the last name of some of them. The DPS should ARREST HIM NOW. They should set an example that this will not be tolerated and at least provide protection to this family in the meantime. THIS IS A BLATANT CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION.

Wendy said...

And it is a HATE CRIME. In fact, why wait to see what the DPS does or doesn't do? I am making calls today.

Anonymous said...

this is blatant and uncalled for but has been happening for decades in many ways. enough is enough. disagree but please be civilized.

I agree with you Wendy something needs to be done NOW.

The Saipan Blogger said...

send me a name and a photo and I'll do a post about this domestic terrorist.

Wendy said...

Hi Angelo

I also think this person is a terrorist.

The Saipan Blogger said...

Are Raby's kids American citizens? Threatening to kill Americans makes you a terrorist in my book. Let's send this jerk to Guantanamo.

Anonymous said...

Mr Syed recieve a death threat?what kind of animal is that person that is trying to destroy the life of mr syed?!syed is a peaceful man!and hes not doing anything againts the law!and maybe that guy thinks that its funny to make mr syed scare!that caller is insane!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mam Wendy,

For years, I'd been wanting to comment on variety's comment section but opted not to do so because of this kind of treatment that might come up, and it did.

I'd been wanting to shout to the whole island how wonderful Bro. Rabby is. Most of those commenting have no idea that Bro. Rabby doesn't need to do what he's doing because he is already a greencard holder, that will lead to his US Citizenship. But because of his enselfishness he's doing what he can to help other people.

To those of you who doesn't know Bro. Rabby, he is a LOCAL because he is legally married to a wonderful local lady, Sis.Vicky.

I am hoping that the FBI will solve this matter because I lost my trust to DPS a long time ago. Simple thefts and robberies can't be solved if nobody tipped off.

Hoping & praying for that justice will be served.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, while the threat is of course illegal, it doesn't constitute a civil rights violation or a federal matter, unless there's some part of it not covered in the media. I think it's just a garden-variety threat, and a matter for local police. Don't make it something it's not. (However, if the government was involved in making the threat, or if the local police refuses to pursue the matter, then it could come into federal jurisdiction.)

Wendy said...

Anonymous 6:32

Maybe under the law it is not a civil rights violation, but in my eyes it is uncivil and unlawful to make such threats and to disrupt the security of a family. I also know that the investigation falls under the local law enforcement, but federal officials could also get involved.

I would never call any threat a "garden variety" threat. Every threat is wrong. This threat was an attempt to STOP AN ADVOCATE FROM PROMOTING A CAUSE AND HELPING FOREIGN WORKERS. THE CALLER SHOULD BE IN JAIL!

I have contacted some federal officials in the CNMI and in Washington, DC and am contacting more today. Let them see what the climate is like in the CNMI, let them read the comments in the Marianas Variety. Maybe it will inspire them to move on the worker regulations and granting status so the uncertainty is ended and the hateful exchange can end. The climate is dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Anon6:32 here again. Don't be the activist who cried wolf. A civil rights violation is a very specific legal term, and it just doesn't apply here. Save calls of "civil rights violation" for the real civil rights violations, or you won't be taken seriously. Call this incident what it is -- a violent threat that should be criminally prosecuted, but not a federal civil rights violation. Otherwise, the next time you point out a real civil rights violation, smart people will say "Oh, there she goes again." (The activist who cried wolf.)

Anonymous said...

noni 6:32,

you are certainly a "garden-variety" moron.

Anonymous said...

why is he/she going to kill? it just because they gave him US citizenship and does not accept other to have it too? hahahahahahaha! that's real clown!

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:47

I'd rather be accused of "crying wolf" then to remain silent when a person is attacking another to shut him up in an effort to take away his basic rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association. Human and civil rights are not just LEGAL rights. These are universal rights. Whether or not it falls under local or federal law is for authorities to decide. I will bring it to the attention of federal lawmakers and officials because they should know what is happening in the CNMI to innocent people who speak up!

the teacher said...

Wendy - Speaking of lies and corruption, did you see the photo of Boehner and Governor Fitial in the morning paper?

That could be the poster for lies and corruption.

Wendy said...

Hi Ron

Oh -yuck! No, I did not see that. He can add that to his photos with Bush, Delay, Schaffer, Young, and all of his Republican pals who lied for him. Will check out the photo!

The Saipan Blogger said...

I don't think that was Boehner in the photo. It was a staffer. Boehner is bright orange and cries a lot.

The Saipan Blogger said...

I recant that last comment. Yes, that's Boehner. And yes, he's orange.

Anonymous said...

> Speaking of lies and corruption, did you see the photo of Boehner and Governor Fitial in the morning paper?

Time to update the Dumb & Dumber image.

Anonymous said...

There will be no follow-up to that death threat, and indeed, many won't believe it was even real, if the number and name isn't posted here.

Anonymous said...

Noni 1:34, are you trying to impede a law enforcement investigation? Let DPS or the FBI do their job. Anyone with evidence should contact them.

You can have the press or bloggers investigating and publicizing misconduct, or it can be addressed in a court of law. But the two are often incompatible.

Remember the “Katrina” case where the victim's Congressional testimony was inconsistent with her prior statements to law enforcement, resulting in non-prosecution of the case? At the other extreme were the MPLA allegations reported by OPA, where the press and bloggers hounded politicians and prosecutors instead of publicly pressuring and shaming the suspects.

We don't need either reaction again here now. The criminal justice system is not and should not be about politics.

It is convictions we need, not headlines.

If the USAO and OAG decline to prosecute within a year or so, there will be plenty of time to publicize private investigations.

Anonymous said...

1:34 am's response is not to impede the law enforcement but merely a sign of desparation that is understandable. also, that's the thing, let DPS do their job, when then?

i'm keeping my fingers crossed, wishing for a result. wish.....