[Yassin Aref and his co-defendant Mohammed Hossain each received a 15-year sentence. KH]
Rensselaer County Jail, March 7, 2007

My Dear Friends, Justice Lovers, Peace Seekers, and Truth Tellers;

You cannot know how grateful I am for what you have to done, and for what you are doing — not just because you are supporting me, but because you are also serving your country and defending its values. You want to prevent those in power from taking America back to the Dark Ages and to stop them from demolishing what has been built through decades of struggle. The freedom that we have in America is the fruit of the efforts of people like you, and the sacrifices of people like Martin Luther King. I was very proud of all of you, and prayed for you when I heard what you had done.
In the last five months you challenged severe weather — cold and snow — to participate in vigils in from of the courthouse asking for Justice and Freedom for me and for Hossain, and refusing to accept what has been done to us and our families. Your signs, letters, and articles were perfect tools and weapons for defending the Constitution from being violated or destroyed. Your support for me and my family helped us to believe that we came to the right place after all, and gave us a lot of hope that we will eventually get our rights back. It is still possible that Justice and Truth will be served.
Thank you very much to each and every single one of you. You are true soldiers fighting for freedom, justice, equal rights, a peaceful life, and human dignity — the very values for which millions like me immigrated from third world countries to have, and which are the honor of America. I grew up in Iraq under a dictator’s rule as a second class citizen, and I saw the situation in the Middle East. I understand what happens to life in such countries when the Government takes over the judicial system and controls the courtroom, especially when narrow minds and biased men are rulers. I hope everyone understands this and works hard to keep the courts in America independent and decisions based on the best of the evidence and nothing more. If not, I will not be the last victim. My case will just be the beginning of the disaster to come which could end the rule of law and turn the justice system into a tool for corrupt leaders to enforce their policies.
You may think that Yassin is just being emotional. Perhaps you think that I have not been in this country long enough to makes such conclusions and that I am overreacting. I cannot say that such a disaster to our judicial system will certainly occur, but I see that the process has started. I hope that you can stop the process before it will be too late. It is my life experience that when people let wrong things happen, even a few times, it often becomes too late to control.
If in Iraq we had stopped Saddam when he executed Barzani’s family in 1982, Saddam would not have been able to gas Halabja in March 1988; if we had stopped Saddam when he destroyed Halabja, he would not have been able to launch the Anfal genocide in July and August of 1988 that killed 182,000 Kurds; if we had stopped Saddam when he launched the Anfal genocide, he would not have been able to occupy Kuwait. And so on. But instead many people praised him or were too scared to say no to him until we reached the point where we had lost everything, the country was destroyed and millions of people had been killed.
Since 9/11, the American government has brought disaster after disaster upon the people in the name of defending them, and whoever opposes the government is accused of not being patriotic or entitled to citizenship. The administration claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was supporting terrorism. They fabricated maps, pictures, and stories which they showed to the world through the UN. Look what happened as a result. More than 3,000 Americans have died; over 700,000 Iraqi’s have been killed; billions of dollars have been wasted, and no benefit has been achieved.
In America since 9/11 more than 20,000 Muslims have been deported or left the country. Hundreds of Muslims are in jail on trumped up charges for which they were wrongly convicted; billions of dollars have been wasted; the Constitution has been violated and damaged, and as a result the whole world has lost
– OVER –
faith in America. People who want to live in a real democracy with freedom, justice, human rights and dignity have been attacked and made to feel unsafe in their own country. I am not crying for myself. I went through many difficulties in my life and I saw many tragedies. Jail is not the worst for me, but I am worried about you and I know that if nothing is done and things continue in the same direction, this nation will lose its place among others.
The Prosecutors and the Government may be proud for jailing innocent people like me and destroying my family. They know well that I never did or said anything against this country and I have no idea about any plot to harm America. What do they achieve by putting me in jail? I believe it is the Government that is the loser. The government broke the law and violated the Constitution; the government made thousands of citizen loose faith in their judgment and honesty; the government wasted millions of dollars for no reason. They concealed the truth, killed justice, destroyed the peace, and divided the community just to frame an innocent person like me. Putting me in jail will not help them to win the war in Afghanistan; it will not make them successful in Iraq; it will not make America safer in any way; it will not improve relations with other countries; it will not bring down gas prices; it will not prevent global warming; it will not take drugs off of the streets of America; it will not end child abuse; it will not prevent crime; it will not improve the educational system. Putting me in jail will only affect my wife and children and cause them to suffer for no reason. The only thing that the government will get out of putting me in jail is a short propaganda statement which they can give to the media telling the people that they are busy finding terrorists and the war on terror is going on. The government knows that I had nothing to do with terrorists and I believe that 2/3 of Americans now know that they are liars.
My dear friends — I would like to remind you about a few things which I believe it is my duty to say from the deepest part of my heart and from the love and respect and concern that I hold for you and for all the people in this country. As God is my witness, I assure you and all of the American people that I did nothing against them, and I had no will or intention to harm them in any way. I came to this country only for my children’s future.
I believe that I was convicted for being a Muslim. That is the only thing their evidence showed, and I am proud to admit it. It does not matter if they give me the death penalty, I am not going to call for revenge or teach my children or the Muslim community to hate this country. It is against my faith to hate people their color or language or nationality. The prophet Mohammad never took revenge for himself. I will never give up my hope because I believe in God, and I did nothing wrong and I know thousands like you are asking for Justice. I still believe in the justice system of this country and I do not want the government to corrupt it.
I want you all to continue your support and to never give up. It is not for me or my family, but it is for this country, America and its people. The freedom and equal rights in this country and in Western countries is the fruit of the struggling and sacrifice of many people like you. If it was not for the horrors of the World Wars, the Geneva Conventions would not have been written; if it was not for the sacrifices of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King’s vision of equality for all would still be just a dream. As long as life continues on this earth there will be struggle. Be happy and proud that we can be part of it and we can work to achieve something good for everyone.
After pending 18 months in jail I now realize that it is not just me, but many people, who are suffering. Many youth are victims of drug and alcohol abuse that is destroying America from inside. Sexual relationships between men and women need to improve and provide for more stability and sensitivity. If not the children will be the victims and the family will be lost. We need to rebuild families in this country. Many children do not know their parents; many couples are separated.
I have many things I would like to say but soon by God’s will I will be able to publish my book and it will all be in there. I hope to help construct something beautiful — not a castle — but a strong nation. Please forgive me. I have taken too much of your time. I love you all and I will never forget your help. Keep the faith. Stay firm. Be strong. Keep working. Have patience. And never give up. God bless you all and God bless this country.
Yassin Muhiddin Aref
Original site: Yassin Aref’s farewell letter