Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Letters to the Editor

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Letters to the Editor

Article excerpt

"Could I Possibly Be Next?"

THANK YOU for publishing "Dr. Rafil A. Dhafir at Terre Haute Prison's New Communication Management Unit" by Katherine Hughes in your May/June issue (p. 12). The article addresses two issues: the questionable establishment of a separate prison for Arab and/or Muslim inmates in the Federal System, and the continued persecution of Dr. Dhafir, an Iraqi-born U.S. citizen of some 30 years from Syracuse, New York.

Many Americans generously assisted directly and indirectly the people, and particularly the children, of Iraq, who were being killed daily due to the impact of U.N. sanctions imposed and maintained for 12 years by the Security Council member states, led by Washington and London, after the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait in early 1991. Dr. Dhafir was one of those Americans, who through great generosity conspicuously gave of himself and of his financial resources. He founded "Help the Needy" for that very purpose and sent over one million dollars in food aid and medical assistance to the Iraqi people.

Other U.S. citizens who sent humanitarian aid to Iraqi children and adults in defiance of U.N. sanctions had civil fines imposed by Washington, but none were imprisoned. In contrast, Dr. Dhafir is serving 22 years for his humanitarian outreach in defiance of these U.N. sanctions that I among others consider to have been genocidal. Does this mean that a different standard is being applied to U.S. citizens who are Muslim? The establishment of the special prison to isolate Arab and Muslim inmates seems to underline that the correct answer is yes.

It appears that Dr. Dhafir has become a victim of American injustice that applies double standards. He seems to have been swept up in anti-Islamic anti-Arab madness that has corrupted the American justice system. It is past time that all humanitarian-minded, decent Americans ask themselves, could I possibly be next? And then begin to understand better and take action in keeping with the responsibilities of citizenship, particularly now when American values together with American democracy are endangered, before it is too late.

Denis J. Halliday, former U.N. assistant secretary-general and head of the U.N. Humanitarian Program in Iraq 1997-98, New York, NY

Unlike former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who in 1996 told "60 Minutes" that the death of half a million Iraqi children was "worth it," you resigned your position on principle, for which we applaud and thank you. Your point about a double standard certainly is well taken: Voices in the Wilderness, for example, whose members actually traveled to Iraq several times bringing medicine, was fined $20,000, and no one has been sentenced to prison.

Author Hughes has since informed us that as a result of the terrible health care provided at Terre Haute's CMU, one inmate has died and another suffered a burst appendix.

The "New Palestinians"

With more and more of "our" cowardly members of Congress marching to AIPAC drums, with the highly suspicious events of 9/11 (which were responsible for dragging us into war against Iraq, with all of the subsequent, unnecessary deaths of innocent humans), and with the concurrent loss of American liberties, most recently the actions of the Department of Defense, in denying American citizen-soldiers fighting in Iraq the right to access Internet Web sites, it becomes more apparent daily that Americans are becoming the "New Palestinians."

I hope and pray that, with the spotlight on AIPAC activities, and the lessening of the influence of the neocons on foreign policy, it is not too late to reverse the trend toward home-grown Fascism.

Enclosed is a small check, which I wish could be more. Please continue providing access to the truth-which is a service to democracy. May God Bless you all at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs for your good work-HANG IN THERE!

Sam and Vi Parks, Albuquerque, NM

Your financial and moral support over the years is one reason we've made it to the ripe old age of 25, and we are most grateful for both. …

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