Written for Albany March, August 22, 2008

Written for Albany March, 8/22/08 (read by Kathy Manley), and for Muslim Innocence Conference, 8/23/08

My Dear Friends and Justice Seekers,

Thank you very much for coming together and supporting me and my family––this gives me hope and makes me believe the truth will come out and justice will take place. In my tradition we say that the rights people struggle for will never truly be lost. As long as you are standing for justice, my rights will remain. I will lose my rights and it will be over only when you give up!

As a Kurd my history is full of bitter memories, and as an Iraqi there are many sad occasions in my country. But I was always opposed to reviving them, not because they were not tragic and remarkable, but because I was afraid that such memories might push the new generation to revenge and put hate in their hearts. I was not in favor of re-opening our wounds; instead I wanted to leave the past and look toward the future. I believed reconciliation and unity required us to forget the past and forgive each other for the sake of our children’s future, and in order to rebuild our lives and our country. I still believe that. I know what you are doing is different even though the occasion is sad, and you are remembering the tragedy that happened to me and my family––there is no hate and no revenge here. Our message today is very clear.

1) The government must know:
• You reject what they did to us and our families;
• They must stop setting up plots and terrorizing people;
• They must stop framing innocent people and destroying their families;
• They must stop politicizing the justice system;
• They must stop targeting the Muslim community and its organizations, centers and mosques;
• They must stop jailing peaceful family men for election propaganda;
• They must stop wasting your tax money by following, watching and wiretapping law-abiding people.

2) You are here today to tell the government that there is no room in this country for secret courts and secret evidence.

3) You are here today to tell the government that their duty is to protect the citizens and legal residents; to protect the law and the Constitution; to protect people’s rights and freedoms; to protect people’s privacy and property––to look at them equally and establish justice, not destroy it. You must do what you can to keep this country from becoming a police state.

4) You are here today to tell the Muslim community that they have the right to practice their religion and not live in fear. We are all living together and we are neighbors––we should trust each other and not allow the government to separate us.

5) You are here today to tell the courts that they must remain independent and must protect the people, not act as tools for the government. We are asking the courts to correct their mistakes and return the rights to the people.

6) You are here today to tell the world that you are against the war and that you need peace and good relations between all the nations.

You are supporting justice; you are seeking the truth; you are telling the world that you need America to lead by example, not by force. Hopefully everyone will see and hear you.

Again, thank you very much for your time and your support. Please stay firm till we reach freedom.

I am sure you will not forget my family, and that you will make sure my children are taken care of.

May God bless you all.

Yours in peace,
Yassin Aref
CMU, Indiana
August, 2008

February 7, 2009

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