Dr. Dhafir’s attorney, Peter Goldberger, has given us very clear instructionshow to write the most effective letter to Judge Mordue, please read them carefully before writing this very important letter. Â Below are some examples that hopefully will help people write their own letter by giving them some idea of what others have written. Signed hard copy letters should be mailed to Peter Goldberger’s office.Â Before mailing it to him — to ensure it is a letter that will be supportive of Rafil’s cause — I encourage you to submit your letter first to Peter Golberger’s office by email for approval: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Judge Mordue,
I am World War II veteran and emeritus professor of Syracuse University.Â I became familiar with the case of Dr. Rafil Dhafir through my wife Katherine Hughes, whom I met at a Quaker study and retreat center in Birmingham, England, in 1987.Â My wife attended virtually all of the 14-week trial.Â As we talked, I was struck by Dr. Rafil Dhafir’s caring and compassion portrayed in the court proceedings and this led me to attend a couple of court sessions later in the trial.
Since then my wife has interviewed some of Dr. Dhafir’s office co-workers and employees, and heard from some of his patients and their relatives.Â Â Here was a man who went out to work in an area that was underserved in oncology, and even treated people if they didn’t have enough money to pay.Â She found that he was trusted and admired by his staff and the picture I got was of a man who had the courage to act on values that most of us cherish.
I have learned about the conditions this caring man has had to endure at the Communications Management Unit (CMU) in Terre Haute.Â Â Sometimes I find I put myself in his shoes: living in a bare prison cell enduring things like snow coming into the cell in winter, and extreme heat in the summer.Â I wince as I think of not being able to talk one-to-one to my wife in any sort of a regular way.Â It is an inhuman scenario. It seems to me that the impact of what Dr. Dhafir has already suffered is not dissimilar to a twenty-two-year sentence served in conditions of normal incarceration and I ask you to please consider reducing Dr. Dhafir’s sentence to time served.
For the last two years I have stood on a street corner in the winter with a group of people who don’t want us to forget Dr. Dhafir.Â We stood in front of the Federal Building in downtown Syracuse in blowing snow and cold.Â These get-togethers have been to remind us, and others, of Dr. Dhafir on the anniversary of the day of his arrest. As I looked at the people on that street corner I could put aside my physical discomfort (I’m 83 years old).Â It made me feel good to be in this world, and around me were many people for whom justice was something sacred.
Thank you, Judge Mordue, for what must be a great deal of time and energy spent going over the words of people who trust your fairness.
Robert E. Newman
Dear Judge Mordue:
A tenured professor of Writing and Rhetoric at Ithaca College, I am writing to plead that you do indeed reduce Dr. Rafil Dhafir’s sentence, as the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision to order resentencing itself suggests would be wise and just.
Aside from being a college professor, I am a married 53-year-old father of one 9-year-old daughter. My wife also teaches writing; in fact, she chairs the Writing Program at Syracuse University. All three of us are mindful of our obligations to all the people in the world who find themselves in much less fortunate circumstances than we enjoy, and for me, especially, this includes all the people caught up interminably, beyond any possible purpose, in our criminal justice and prison systems.
Since I was young boy, when I first drove by the Denver County Jail with my father, in fact, I have worried about what I’ve learned to describe more recently as our harsh retributive criminal justice system, worried that justice was indeed very often blind–and not in the positive way Lady Justice with her scales would suggest–to the enormously complex circumstances that surround crimes, violent and non-violent. In my own experience as a teacher corresponding through my writing classes with prisoners in the U.S. prison system, it has become clear to me that many sentences are excessive, that many prisoners/people–especially smart, sensitive, and educated ones (sometimes self-educated in prison) like Dr. Dhafir–learn their lesson relatively quickly. In such cases, neither the people nor the prisoner benefit from prolonged, purely punitive incarceration. Rehabilitation is clearly one of the major aims of true justice, and yet the ridiculously high rate of recidivism pretty much proves that long sentences, especially those for non-violent offenses, do not accomplish this aim.
I have long followed Dr. Dhafir’s case and–while I don’t know him personally–have read many, many testaments by respected members of my community and the larger national and international communities to the effect that Dr. Dhafir is a caring, gentle man upon whom a long prison sentence is largely lost–a waste of taxpayers’ dollars and a human waste for the man and his family.
Long sentences for compassionate, well-intentioned people like Dr. Dhafir are lose-lose-lose: we the people lose by pouring money into punishment for punishment’s sake, the family members and friends of Dr. Dhafir’s lose the chance to rebuild their lives and community with him in it, and Dr. Dhafir loses a second chance and the possibility of restoration to human community and human society.
I hope you will decide to show mercy on this gentle man’s soul by reducing his sentence as much as the law allows. It seems very clear that his punishment to date has already exceeded the severity of his crimes.
Thank you for taking my opinion into account as you resentence Dr. Dhafir.
Tom Kerr, PhD
Hon. Norman A. Mordue
Chief U.S. District Judge
James M. Hanley Federal Bldg.
Syracuse, NY 13261-7236
Re:Â Rafil Dhafir,
I repectfully request that you reduce Dr. Rafil Dhafir’s sentence in the upcoming proceedings.
I do not know Dr. Dhafir personally, but I have followed his case in the press and via the support group, dhafirtrial.com.Â I know that he was a respected physician and a leading member of the Muslim religious community.
Since Dr. Dhafir’s incarceration I have met a number of his friends, colleagues and patients who have all said that he is a kind and gentle man who was driven to help the poorest people in Iraq who were suffering greatly under the Sadam Hussein regime.
The conditions at the Communications Management Unit have been particularly difficult for a man of Dr. Dhafir’s age who is currently suffering from heart disease and other ailments.Â Dr. Dhafir has had limited contact with his family and acquaintances in recent years.Â This I have been told is especially difficult because of Dr. Dhafir’s strong sense of family and commitment to his local community.
Upon reviewing the his application for resentencing, I hope that you will see fit to reduce Dr. Dhafir’s term of imprisonment in order that he may spend his remaining years as a productive member of our community.
Re re-sentencing of Dr. Rafil Dhafil,
I recently found out about Dr. Rafil Dhafir from a Canadian friend, Mathew Burrows.Â Not knowing anything about the case, I wrote to another friend, Denis Halliday. Denis Halliday was the Assistant Secretary General at the UN, and was in charge of the Oil for Food program in Iraq from in 1996 to 1998. He resigned in protest, giving up a 34 yearÂ career with the UN, as he claimed that the sanctions were directly responsible for the deaths of about 5 thousand children every month, and that the sanctions on Iraq were a “totally bankrupt concept”.Â Han von Sponeck his successor as the UN humanitarian coordinator, also resigned in protest.
In my correspondence with Denis Halliday, he told me about Dr. Rafil DhafirÂ and that he had indeed suffer for many years in Terre Haute, a remote high security prison in Indiana.Â I am personally am very interested in Rafil Dhafir’s case because I, like many others, also took medicine and medical supplies to Iraq in 1999 and 2003.
I am a 63 year old Canadian Mother of three and I also have two stepchildren, and two grandchildren.Â Recently I retired from working for 18 years as a Recreation Therapist in an adult day care program.Â However my husband and I still produce, on a volunteer basis, a weekly community TV program, called Pasifik.ca, focusing on peace and social justice issues. This we have done together for the last 12 years.
In I988 I attended a meeting, in Vancouver BC, about the effects the sanctions were having on the people of Iraq, and there I learned that 200 children were dying every day as a direct result of the Sanction regime. At first I could not believe that this was true, but after doing some research I found not only was it true but my government supported such a regime. So I co-founded with some other concerned Canadians a group: The Campaign to End the Sanction Against the People of Iraq, CESAPI.Â To give ourselves more credibility, five CESAPI members decide to travel to Iraq to see for ourselves what was happening, and I took video footage for our TV program.
We traveled under the auspices of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Western Washington Chapter, Our group consisted of medical doctors, church representatives,and peace activist, from both the US and Canada. In Baghdad, we had meetings with the UN humanitarian Coordinator, Hans von Sponek (who later resigned in protest over the sanctions on Iraq); Robert Watkins, Head of the Red Cross in Iraq; Micheal Han of the Middle East Council of Churches; and Rao Singh, a representative of UNICEF.Â All said the government of Iraq was doing it’s best for the people, but they had insufficient to work with.
We also visited hospitals and schools in Baghdad, Mosul and Basra. There was grief beyond words in Iraq: I was heartbroken at what I witness there. Children were in fact dying before my eyes.
Consequently, in March 2000 I was asked to report my findings to a Parliamentary committee where that committee ruled that the Government of Canada review their support of the Sanctions on Iraq.
Therefore, I can truly understand why Dr. Dhafir, as an Iraqi born Muslim, whose religion also dictates that one has to give to charity, would feel the need to help the people of Iraq.Â I read that the charity, “Help the Needy,” he set up helped more Iraqis than any other NGO.
I understand that Dr Dhafir’s, re-sentencing is coming up for review, and I write to you to ask that you have compassion for him. He is now in failing health and has a heart condition. Apparently medicine is not always available for him, which is ironic.Â He has alsoÂ been sent far away from his family, as he is being held in the “Communications Management Unit” at Terre Haute in Indiana. Therefore making it difficult for his family to visit. Also, I read that these visits are non-contact. As a wife,Â I cannot think how horrible it would be to not only be able to see my husband very much, and when I can see him, not be allowed to give him a hug or little kiss.
The conditions at Terre Haute make his sentence much harsher than if he were in a regular jail. So please Judge Mordue, find itÂ in your heart to commute his sentence to “time served”, so that he might spend his remaining years with his family in his own community.
Sincerely thanking you for your consideration