Denis Halliday spoke June 28th, 2007 at Syracuse University, about the Iraq Sanctions and Dr. Dhafir’s case. This letter was published in today’s Syracuse New Times.

Dr. Rafil Dhafir is an Iraqi born US citizen of 30 years from Syracuse, New York. He founded a charity called “Help the Needy,” to assist the people, particularly the children, of Iraq, who were being killed daily due to the impact of UN sanctions imposed and maintained for 12 years by the Security Council member states, led by Washington and London, after the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait in early 1991. He for that very purpose sent over one million dollars in food aid and medical assistance to the Iraqi people.

Many Americans generously assisted directly and indirectly the people of Iraq during these years. Other US citizens who sent humanitarian aid to Iraqi children and adults, in defiance of UN 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 UN sanctions that I among others consider to have been genocidal. Does this mean that a different standard is being applied to US citizens who are Arab and/or Muslim?

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 begin to take action in keeping with the responsibilities of citizenship, particularly now when American values together with American democracy are endangered.

Denis J. Halliday
Former U.N. Assistant Secretary-General
And Head of the U.N. Humanitarian Program In Iraq, 1997-1998