Dear Congressman Ellison:
As-salamu-alaykum. I am a Canadian citizen, and I heard you speak today on “The Generosity of Inclusion: Everybody Counts, Everybody Matters.” I submitted a question, but it didn’t get asked. At one point I almost felt like I should jump up and ask it, but I have tremendous fear of your government. That is also why I am sending this email from someone else’s email address.
I am a victim of torture committed on behalf of the United States. In September 2002 I was arrested while in transit to Canada, locked up, questioned, and later rendered to Syria, where I was beaten and tortured over the next year. I will spare you the gruesome details, but I still have nightmares. For the most part, they are not of my own torture. Rather, they are of the sounds that I remember — the approaching footsteps, the jangling of the keys not needed to open the electronic doors, and the constant blood-curdling screams of others in neighboring cells.
After I was released and returned to Canada, a commission of inquiry with which your government refused to cooperate exonerated me of any links to terrorism. I still seek justice from your country.
While my case has been discussed in Congressional hearings, where individual members have apologized, your justice system has been totally closed to me. The Department of Justice, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has refused to prosecute those U.S. officials responsible for my torture, and it has argued against every attempt at civil lawsuits in your courts. Your government has refused to ratify the Rome Statute and subject itself to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. And that’s not all. Your government has actually interfered in the justice systems of other countries by exerting pressure to prevent any investigations or prosecutions of the architects of the U.S. torture program.
Your talk today focused on religious inclusion, but I am sure you were also calling for the inclusion of all human beings as members of the human family. I know you believe I count too, I matter too. But if so, where in your country do I go for justice? Why have you not spoken out more forcefully on behalf of my inclusion, as a human being, in your system of justice? With no place to go to get justice, do I really count? Do I really matter? Am I really included?
A seeker of justice
P.S. Feel free to reply through this email address. The recipient has agreed to see to it that I get any forthcoming response.