Mrs Nawal Houda suffered multiple injuries and was treated like a common criminal when she awoke to find the riot police squad handcuffing her son. This was a case of mistaken identity and authoritative intimidation gone wrong, reports Ak Akkawi.
On October 16th, Mrs Houda was with her two boys, Abdul, 19, and Ahmed, 21, in her Lakemba home. She was asleep in her room while her sons where with friends in the side garden.
At midnight, the police riot squad parked itself outside Mrs Houda’s home. Her boys ignored the commotion. “My son was with his friends, he wasn’t doing anything wrong. The police had no reason to stand outside my house. They had no reason to arrest my son. They had the wrong person,” Mrs Houda said.
Fearing the worst, Abdul decided to take his friends into the garage hoping the police squad would go away. “It seemed like the entire police station was parked outside of my house. They stood there and began calling me names. Inappropriate names, swearing at me, it seemed like they wanted me to react,” he said.
Moments later, police officers tore open the front door and swarmed into the house without showing a warrant. They did not explain their reason for being there.
“The police officers had their guns out and were pointing them at Mrs Houda’s two boys. The boys had no chance to resist,” said neighbour Sarah Allen. “They dragged the boys outside and began using their torches as a weapon, laying into the two boys. All the while, their guns were still pointed at them, the police screaming ‘do not resist’. They were not resisting.”
Mrs Houda woke to the sounds of her boys screaming outside and police officers in her house. She did not have time to put on her head scarf, an obligation for a Muslim woman.
“I saw my two boys being beaten on the ground by the police and then handcuffed, and I got worried. I told the police to let my boys go, they’ve done nothing wrong when a female officer struck me across the head. I do not recall with what,” Mrs Houda said.
Mrs Houda continued to ask the police for answers. She still had no reason why the police where doing this to her family. “They refused to answer me. The next thing I knew, I had my legs kicked out from under me by a police officer. I landed on my backside, with my left ankle and toe broken. My hair was pulled as I was rolled onto my stomach, handcuffed and made to sit on the curb with my children. I was not provided with a scarf to cover my hair,” Mrs Houda said.
She also suffered bruises to her arms and legs and a pulled shoulder muscle. “Is that the sort of treatment a mother deserves for worrying about her children? The police did not find anything illegal in my home. They had no right to be in my home, they had no right to treat me and my boys with such violence and hatred,” Mrs Houda said.
The handcuffs were removed from Mrs Houda and Ahmed. Abdul was taken to Campsie Police Station and held for four hours. “The police were unapologetic. They told me they were after Ian. Ian is my neighbour, an older white man, and a drug addict. They mistook my son, who looks Lebanese, for a white older male,” Mrs Houda said.
According to Civil Liberties Australia, “The police can enter your premises with your consent. The police can only search your premises with a warrant. If the police have a warrant, they can break open the premises to enter them if it is necessary.” A warrant was not provided throughout the ordeal. Mrs Houda was not provided with an explanation.
Mrs Houda and her two boys were not cautioned by the police. “Our rights were not read out. They did not say we should have a lawyer present,” Mrs Houda said.
“I’ve always believed that the police are here to protect. I find it hard now, to respect police officers when they resorted to third world tactics,” Mrs Houda said.