Letter to President of Dutch Court October 16, 1996

This letter prompted the following response dated 28 October, 1996 from A. H. Van Delden, President of the Court: "I confirm receipt of your letter dated 16 October, 1996. It seems good to inform you that I see no possibility, nor any reason, to take further action."

To view a scan of that response, click here.

I invite readers to judge for themselves whether there was reason to take further action.

76 Market Street, Apt. D5
Perth Amboy, NJ 08861-4445
United States of America
16 October, 1996

President, Arondissements-Rechtbank
's-Gravenhage, The Netherlands

Dear Sir or Madam:

It appears that the original version of this letter, dated 9 September, 1996, never reached you. My government, your government, or both, seem determined that I should not freely exercise my right to communicate with European authorities.

I have sought political asylum three times in your country. The attached complaint submitted 11 March, 1996 to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the updated communication of 10 March, 1996 to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, also attached, provide some information regarding these efforts.

In brief, having failed to obtain information from the Netherlands Embassy or from Mrs. C.H.A. Huisman, my attorney in the Netherlands (see the attached letters), I am writing to you for the following purposes:

  1. To discover the reason for your negative decision (rolnummer 92/4/01782, dated 18 January, 1993) regarding my appeal of the decision dated 17 November, 1992 by the Ministry of Justice.

  2. To request a copy of that November, 1992 decision. Someone stole the one originally supplied to me.

  3. To inquire whether I have at present any right to appeal these negative decisions. Mrs. Huisman did not submit a second appeal in my behalf, and my attempt to reapply for asylum upon my return to Amsterdam on 5 February, 1993 met with rejection and summary expulsion from your country, sans legal representation or right of appeal.

  4. To advise you and all appropriate agencies of your government that I have attempted to file a human rights complaint before the United Nations and to reassert the torture complaint originally filed on 31 October, 1991. Being held in virtual incommunicado isolation in my own country, I have no information regarding the reception or processing of these complaints.

  5. To present, in this communication, further arguments regarding the validity of my claim as a political refugee and torture victim.

In pursuit of this last objective, let me assure you that I am not acting out of neurosis, paranoia, or frivolity. The vicious American agents who delighted in waging psychological warfare against me in your nation may have been playing games, however depraved, but I was, and am, very serious. I am entirely sane and in contact with reality. I declare, and will do so under oath, that I never willingly left your country, nor did I ever willingly return to my own. I was a victim of coercion, quite deprived of my freedom of choice.

Which is better, to be at home in hell or a stranger in heaven? How can one remain in a place where free exercise of cherished rights and principles provokes only persecution, terrorism, torture, and more, with no available recourse or remedy? Difficult as it may be to believe, the United States of America can be, and is, such a place.

When rage subverts and shame supersedes one's patriotic fervor, only flight avails. No solution short of expatriation will prove remedial. What better destination, then, could an American refugee choose than the Netherlands, land of honesty, respect, decency, and stubborn autonomy combined with social responsibility? What land has shown itself more respectful of human dignity, more assertive of its own national sovereignty? Who sheltered the Pilgrims in England's very shadow? What other Protestants gave refuge to Catholics and Jews in times of persecution?

I approached your nation with great respect, willing to become part of Dutch society, eager to make a positive contribution. I regarded yours as the best possible place of refuge for someone of my political persuasion -- the freest, fairest, most compassionate of nations.

Your law defines a political refugee as "an alien from a country in which he has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of religious or political conviction or nationality, or by reason of being a member of a particular race or a particular social group ... "

A firmly and consistently held belief in the essential dignity of the human person may and should be regarded as a religious conviction, as espoused by Unitarians, Ethical Culturists, and others. A passionate commitment to human rights, to Constitutional guarantees of liberty, to the defense of the individual against the relentless encroachment of government authority, is a political conviction, such as that espoused by the Libertarian Party. One need not be a member of these groups to embrace these principles or to suffer persecution because of them.

In 1984 and 1985, I "blew the whistle" on civil liberties violations involving persons at my workplace and corrupt police, prosecutors, and intelligence agents. Such is the corruption of America that government at all levels, private agencies of all kinds, ignored or rejected me.

The gangsters, government and "private," whose crimes I had tried to reveal invaded my privacy, slanderously attacked my character and reputation, impugned my sanity, assaulted me with radiation and bio-chemical weapons, killed my dog, mentally tortured me, forced me out of my job, wrecked my car, broke up my marriage, drove me into exile, violated my rights abroad, and thrice prevailed upon European states to return me coercively to this benighted nation. Does not this tragic history demonstrate that my fear of persecution in the United States is eminently well-founded?

Though I am not starving or homeless in America (my suicide attempt of 3 November, 1993 permitted me to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits on the basis of depression), though I am not confined to a prison cell (no state or nation has ever charged me with a crime), I am, nevertheless, a Prisoner of Conscience in my own country. Coerced repatriation has once again denied me the equal protection of the law (please refer to the attached letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its unsigned, undated response). Malicious psychiatric assessments worthy of the KGB, as well as other attacks upon my honor and reputation, have reduced me to the status of a non-person. No government official will respond to my letters. No non-governmental organization will provide advocacy. No legal clinic will represent me.

I am subjected to obscene violation of my privacy, interference with my correspondence, frequent break-ins of my apartment, petty thefts, tampering with my computer and audio equipment, probable contamination of foodstuffs with bio- chemical warfare agents, and denial of appropriate medical care. Like a recaptured slave in the 1800s, I am "hobbled." Illness, pain, and galling limitation are imposed upon me, with no available remedy, in order to degrade and humiliate me and restrict me in the free exercise of my rights. This, in addition to the ongoing program of electromagnetic mental torture, is the persecution to which your rejection has doomed me. My life is in danger. My liberty is severely restricted. Pursuit of happiness is a forgotten dream, a cosmic joke.

Being a member of a particular race and social group, I have been subjected to what we may call, for want of a better term, reverse discrimination. Human rights organizations, civil liberties groups, and the progressive media in this country and abroad seem to discriminate against white, male, non-violent victims of political persecution. We are taken for granted.

Did the Sanctuary Movement activists of the 1980s, who included Jack Elder, a fraternity brother of mine at the Catholic University of America, garner the support they deserved for their truly heroic efforts? I must confess that my own support was purely verbal. Did the liberal community rise up to demand a presidential pardon for former Army Captain Lawrence Rockwood, who tried to expose some of the horror my government has sponsored in Haiti? Has anyone paid attention to the hard realities I have sought to communicate, through my correspondence and through writings submitted for publication? Where are the demonstrations, the letter-writing campaigns? Who offers support and encouragement? Who volunteers legal assistance?

As a victim of discrimination, I make no invidious comparison between myself and other persecuted persons. We are, all of us, brothers and sisters. To compare injustice with injustice, rape with rape, torture with torture, is to play the oppressor's game, to be divided and conquered. The standards of human rights, dignity, and decency apply to all, without exception or distinction. No one's rights should be violated, even a little. No one should be harassed, persecuted, raped or tortured, even a little.

In 1991, however, as I sat watching TV in Building 4 of Sandholm Refugee Camp in Denmark, I saw Professor Anita Hill testifying against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, accusing him of sexual harassment. I was proud that she had been able to do so, bearing witness to her own experiences, on her own authority, with no tapes, no documentation, no direct corroboration. It restored a bit of my faith in the two-party system. I could not help wondering, though, whether I might be better off if George Bush had asked me for a date instead of torturing me.

This year, I have followed the grim and resolute efforts of Jennifer Harbury and Sister Dianna Ortiz as they sought to pry open the Pandora's Box of American atrocities in Guatemala. I wholeheartedly support them both, yet wonder why my own congressmen (three of them in succession, all liberal Democrats) and my own senators (also liberal Democrats) will not even answer my letters.

I was privileged to write a "letter to the editor" this year in support of Mumia Abu Jamal, whose life should and must be spared and whose freedom should be restored, yet I reflect with unfathomable sadness that if I had been an African-American who fled to the Netherlands as a fugitive charged with killing a police officer, rather than a white human rights advocate fleeing torture, the Dutch Government would have refused to extradite me. You will not send anyone to face the death penalty, yet you returned me against my will to the land of my torturers.

Those who chose me as a "sacrificial lamb" knew exactly what they were doing. In the beginning, I was a middle-class middle-aged white male professional, with a home in the suburbs, a wife, and a dog. Absorbed in my own life of quiet desperation, I had few friends. For my wife's sake, I had for years kept political expression to a minimum, except for my fateful participation in a 1982 CISPES-sponsored demonstration against US military aid to El Salvador. My parents long dead, my sisters far away, I had no real base of support. There was no church, no ethnic community, no group to respect my opinions, take my side, believe in me. From the first, ridicule and rejection were my lot. It was not at all difficult for my oppressors to capitalize on my isolation, to exploit and extend this skepticism and disrespect. Who represents persons like me? Who will go out on a limb for us? Who really cares? Precisely because I am not a woman, not a gay person, not an African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian, Communist, Freeman, Scientologist, or a member of some other disadvantaged class, I am subject to the cruelest form of exclusion and discrimination. On the international scene, I am punished for not being a Kurd, a Somalian, or a Bosnian, for having no dependent children. I am a minority of one in a world of arbitrary distinctions and fragmented loyalties.

In my asylum application, interview, and appeal, I needed to demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution in my native land in order to qualify for Convention Refugee Status. It seems to me that I did so. The Decision makes note of the following:

  1. My Statement of 16 December, 1992 and, by implication, the information, admonishments, and pleadings contained therein.

  2. My participation in demonstrations opposing the Vietnam War and US military aid to El Salvador. Examples of letters-to-the-editor in which I championed human rights causes were not seen by the Court, having been stolen from my briefcase in Amsterdam by CIA agents on 22 October, 1992.

  3. Personal surveillance by American agents since at least 1982 and compilation of a voluminous secret dossier regarding my life, associations, and activities.

  4. Repeated break-ins of my home and tampering with my computer.

  5. Apparent defamation by the Office of Public Diplomacy of the US Department of State.

  6. The terroristic stabbing and death of my dog in 1987.

  7. The malicious destruction of my automobile in 1989. The fact that I was corruptly prevented from obtaining an insurance benefit for the resulting loss is apparently not mentioned.

  8. Experimentation since 1984 with genetically-altered microbes, and the refusal of adequate medical diagnosis and treatment for the resulting illnesses.

  9. Mental torture by American agents, continuing even in the Netherlands.

  10. Acts of interference and harassment by American agents in the Netherlands.

  11. Denial of the equal protection of American laws.

  12. My 1991 Dutch asylum application and its withdrawal, stating falsely that the withdrawal was made of my own free will.

  13. The fact that I was permitted to leave the United States without interference, as if my very success in reaching the Netherlands disqualified me for refugee status. No mention is made of my forced repatriation from Denmark in 1991, the first of three such illegal deportations. I have not been permitted to leave my country! Have you ever seen how a cat plays with a mouse?

Does the Decision say that these things never happened, that my documents were fabricated, my accusations capricious? Does the Decision maintain that I was, and am, delusional? Does it state that these experiences do not demonstrate a "well-founded fear of persecution?" On what basis, other than illegal discrimination, did your government overlook my obvious sincerity, sanity, and articulate intelligence, deny the obvious cogency of my arguments, discount the significance of my documentation or doubt its validity?

Your government has acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including its Optional Protocol, and the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, including Article 22 thereof. Are these international agreements not binding upon your Court and upon the Ministry of Justice? I respectfully call to your attention the points covered in my communication of 11 March, 1996 to the Human Rights Committee.

Please note also that Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture states the following:

1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant, or mass violations of human rights.

I maintain that the documentation I submitted in support of my asylum application demonstrated such a "consistent pattern" of "gross, flagrant," violations of my personal rights. As suggested in my letter to Mr. David Stewart of the United States Department of State dated 7 June, 1996 and that of Mr. Harlan Girard dated 22 April, 1996, this "consistent pattern" appears to affect many individuals. The United States has grossly and contumaciously violated international human rights law, in my case and in many others. Your government expelled me three times without taking into account my valid claims of torture or my government's "consistent pattern" of human rights violations.

Article 13 of the Convention Against Torture states:

Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges that he has been subject to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its competent authorities. Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against any ill treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any evidence given.

Your government refused to comply with these provisions, failing, as well, to provide any remedy or compensation.

Considering that I first sought political asylum in your beautiful country more than eighteen hundred days ago, considering the horrors subsequently endured that your government might have spared me, considering the victimization of innocent others that such compassionate, courageous compliance with international law might have prevented, considering my continued persecution, torture, and humiliation, considering my frail health and constant danger, considering the significant dilation of United Nations processes, could you not now reverse the Decision you made "in the name of the Queen" nearly four years ago? Will you not effect the rescue of a Prisoner of Conscience from the indescribable indignity of what Harlan Girard calls "electronic incarceration?" Would not such courageous action, entirely in accord with international law and your own highest ideals of compassion and justice, bring honor to your nation?

Please be so kind as to acknowledge receipt of this communication. So serious and frequent is my government's interference with my correspondence that I can never be certain of any letter's delivery to its intended recipient.

Yours truly,
(original signed)
James Henry Graf

cc: Netherlands Embassy

Additional Comments Regarding Dutch Court Decision

Selected Documents and Links

Home Page