The Syracuse Post-Standard just let me know that it is unwilling to print a letter the Dr. Dhafir Support Committee sent two weeks ago because it included a request for donations for a “political cause.” The letter also has to be 250 words or less. I responded immediately with the letter below, but not fast enough for it to be in tomorrow’s paper, on Muslim Solidarity Day. It will be published in Friday’s paper.

To the Editor:

February 26, 2003, marks the sixth anniversary of the arrest of prominent local oncologist, Dr. Rafil Dhafir. On that same day, 150 Muslim families were interrogated because they had donated to his charity Help the Needy. Dr. Dhafir was “guilty” of sending aid to Iraq during the brutal embargo on that county, the effects of which very few Americans know.

Three senior UN officials resigned because they were not prepared to implement a “genocidal” policy, which they said undermined “not only the UN’s own charter, but the Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention as well.” In the year 2000 the UN reported that approximately 1.5 million people, mostly children, had been killed as a direct result of the sanctions. This was Dr. Dhafir’s “crime,” sending food and medicine to starving children dying of diarrhea.

The first indictment contained 12 charges related to the Iraq sanctions. When Dr. Dhafir refused to accept a plea agreement, 25 Medicare fraud charges were added. Medicare fraud usually involves fictitious patients and made-up illnesses; Dr. Dhafir’s case had none of this. The government never contested that patients received care and chemotherapy medicine. Its argument was, because Dr. Dhafir was sometimes not present in his office when patients were treated, he was not due any reimbursement for treatment or the expensive chemotherapy his office had administered.

The Dr. Dhafir Support Committee is currently producing a documentary, Crime of Compassion, which will be introduced and narrated by Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General.

Dr. Dhafir Support Committee