A Nation In Denial

Copyright © James Henry Graf, 1996-2002

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Part 6

Hard-hearted Amnesty in Amsterdam is another story entirely. Mr. Diederik de Bruijn of that office's Department of External Relations is so contemptuous as to make one wonder how he ever ended up in that line of work. On October 7, 1998, he sent me the following text with the title "Your e-mail messages:"

The Dutch section of Amnesty International received a lot of messages from you over a long time. Once, I sent you the answer that your case does not fall within the mandate of AI and that we are not in a position to help you. Don't you read your e-mail or do you have a bad memory? Would you please be so kind not to send any further messages to us? Your messages are neither read nor answered in the future. Please take notice of my answer.

I did not accede to Mr. De Bruijn's wishes. My response of the same date was firm, and I sent a copy to London:

Guess what! Amnesty International's mandate has changed! It now includes refugees and asylum-seekers. You may be interested to know that AI has even spoken out strongly against "safe country" asylum policies and such involuntary repatriations as your country inflicted upon me (see http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/refugee/report/index.html).

Amnesty International has also taken a strong position against rampant police brutality in my "safe" country, the United States of America, taking note of that which has occurred in New York City. As I may have informed you, I "blew the whistle" in 1985 on corrupt connections between my employers (a New York State agency) and members of the S.N.A.P. Team of New York's 106th police precinct, who had used electric stun-guns to torture marijuana suspects.

You are badly in need of education, Sir. I seriously wonder whether you work for Amnesty International at all.

I shall be sending copies of this message to AI's offices in London and the USA. It is my hope that they will reaffirm the right of any victim of such human rights CRIMES as discrimination on the basis of national origin and coerced repatriation to seek attention, advocacy, and assistance from their non-governmental organization.

I also intend to post the text of your message, with this reply, on JH Graf's Human Rights Forum at http://forums.delphi.com/m/main.asp?sigdir=jhgraf and elsewhere. I want others to know of your disgraceful attitude.

I am not a piece of garbage. I am a man, endowed with dignity and rights. Nobody has any excuse for discriminating against me. Shame on you, Sir, and on those whose inhuman crimes you seek to cover up. You can run from the truth, but I will not let you hide.

There was no response from any Amnesty International office.

More than ever, I have become a non-person -- shut out, anathematized. Aside from crafty, sophistic buck-passing or excuse-making letters, I get no recognition or cooperation whatever from any agency of government, any congressman or senator, any human rights organization, legal clinic, or United Nations agency (17). Those I try to contact, if they get my letters at all, are either intimidated or "complimented" -- that is, induced via slanderous cock-and-bull stories to cooperate with the conspirators and to hold me in contempt.

I am forced to live in ""Virtual America"," where personalities prevail over principles. The corruption I've discussed here benefits from a prevailing mindset of narrow loyalties and arbitrarily limited mandates. The Virtual America of my experience (Virtual Europe, too, I'm sorry to say) flounders in avoidance, excuse-making, exception-making, and loophole-finding. Instead of just doing the right thing, people -- especially public officials and human rights advocates -- will stay up nights searching for ways to rationalize doing the wrong thing or nothing at all. Blind to the issues, they focus on personal, individual distinctions. They inspect me and reject me.

Those who can acknowledge the issues at all suggest that it's somehow all my fault. My personality, my character, my sanity, my morality, my motivation, my credentials, my lifestyle -- these become the issue. They decide they don't like my writing style or the way I part my hair. They decide that I don't have enough academic credentials, haven't won any honors, have no standing, don't deserve any recognition. I'm the wrong race, the wrong sex, the wrong age, the wrong shape, the wrong nationality. I'm only one person: they concentrate on groups. Mine is a small tragedy: they only deal with big ones. My prison has no walls or bars, my torture leaves few scars, my murder is too slow to be noticed. Let's face it, I just don't qualify. I should apologize for being so selfish as to demand the equal protection of the law.

My own victimization thus becomes an argument against my message. Is there a law that says victims cannot be advocates, or are people simply looking for an excuse to continue wallowing in denial? Every person deserves respect.

Though I have as much right as anyone else to demand justice, this is not about me alone. It's about issues, principles. I am convinced that many have died because nobody would listen to me. Many are suffering, many are enslaved, many are degraded and exploited, many are hospitalized or imprisoned because nobody would pay attention to the issues I have tried to raise. The honor and credibility of nations (and of the United Nations) are at stake. I tell you frankly that if truth and justice do not prevail in this matter, civilization will fall, so grave are the horrors such corruption portends. The rule of law is paramount. Without it we are all doomed.

America is a nation in denial. My experience suggests that its institutions for promoting human rights and justice are undergoing progressive paralysis. Its institutions for exposing ugly truth are, in this instance -- and soon, I'm sure, in many others -- quite effectively gagged.

Take this message, America, from one who has not known peace of mind or privacy of thought in more than five thousand days. You have the right to remain silent. You also have the right not to remain silent. Preserve the one by exercising the other.


  1. Unlike the United States, the Netherlands and Denmark have acceded to Article 22 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which permit individuals to complain directly to UN committees. At Sandholm Refugee Camp in Birkerød, Denmark, I had written and mailed a communication, dated October 31, 1991, to the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, charging the Netherlands and Denmark with violations of the Convention, followed, on November 4, 1991, by a complaint against Denmark before the UN Human Rights Committee. Throughout 1992, and ever since, the UN has provided no information regarding these complaints. In March, 1996, I sent updated and expanded communications, as well as a new human rights complaint against the Netherlands and Belgium dated March 11, 1996. Hearing nothing, I submitted new communications in March, 1997, including return postage. I mailed updates in 1998 as well. To date, my many follow-up communications have prompted no acknowledgment, judgment of admissibility, or information.


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