(From the Nuclear Resister #151, December 20, 2008)
December 16, 2008
Two days ago, December 14, was my second anniversary here in CMU-Terre Haute, Indiana.
Two years ago, with dozens of others, I was whisked here without explanation, to this place reserved for those on death row. The place was closed for years. It was filthy, with dead animals all over the place. It took days to clean it up to make inhabitable (no thanks to the idle staff).
In the beginning we were well accommodated in many things, mainly our religious needs. (The exception was the limit of only one 15 minute phone call per week and a maximum of 4 hours non-contact visits per month). But little by little all the “good” things were taken away to the point that they are trying to restrict our food as well. Our religious practices are severely curtailed.
Because we just celebrated our annual Eid ( the end of Hajj or pilgrimage) I wanted to share our experience.
We started the day (December 8) with the prayer at 8:30 a.m., then had a gathering for a couple of hours for entertainment. We then had a meal that was prepared by us (the administration no longer provides a special Eid meal as they used to, but they continue to do so for Christmas). Afterwards, the movie Omar Mokhtar was shown.
But even this modest celebration was not easy to arrange. It was hard to find someone to give the Eid Sermon. Administration recently punished one of us for being outspoken during a Friday Sermon. They don’t provide clergy on a regular basis so we have to seek volunteers from among ourselves, but it is becoming dangerous to do so.
I love to bake. I volunteered to make a special dessert for everybody. I started collecting the material days beforehand as the resources are scarce here, only to discover the items missing from my room after the staff had a “shake down” of the rooms!!!!!!!
I still managed to make dessert for all, including the non-Muslims. We made sure that nothing was going to stop us from enjoying our day of Eid, and we did.
No doubt the prayers and the well wishes of all who support us had an impact on our joy that day.
I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to all who have sent cards and letters of support for their kindness and thoughtfulness.
[Rafil Dhafir is an Iraqi-American doctor whose multi-million dollar charity to Iraq violated the post-1991 sanctions, leading to unfounded accusations he funded terrorists, a malicious medicare fraud prosecution, and a 22-year sentence now being served in the Bureau of Prisons’ Communications Management Unit at Terre Haute penitentiary.]