Richard Sitcha Letter

To the Hartford Undercurrent:
My name is Richard Sitcha, Iím a 42 year old man from Cameroon in Africa. Iím married and am the father of 2 children. I have been detained at Osborn Correctional Institution since September 18, 2003 where I have been researching political refuge. After having obtained my law degree in 1986 at a university in my country, I worked six years teaching law and French in a private technical school. Then from 1992 to 1994 I took a Justice bailiffís training in Cameroon, and worked as an assistant bailiff in a Bailiffís school. In April of 2001 I fled my country, abandoning my job and my family because I had helped uncover the truth that nine young people had been killed by military men, and for that the government wanted to kill me. I legally entered the US April 27, 2001, and in one year and as the law demanded, I applied for political refuge, which I was granted January 16, 2003. I received my Social Security number, my work permit, and my passport. I worked with no problem at Icon in Glastonbury and awaiting the arrival of my family. Since my arrival to the United States I have been a member of the St.Annís Church of the Immaculate Conception. I read Gospel and sing the mass in French. I contribute financially to the Bishopís Annual Fund for Retired Priest, to Food Service in Florida to feed hungry children, I helped Wesleyan Students in Middletown who study about Africa, I have never in all my life been charged with a crime, and certainly not here in the United States- this country of righteousness, of justice, and of liberty that welcomed me, saving my life. Nevertheless, a few months after I received a new letter from my lawyer demanding I reappear in court because the prosecutor of the Immigration and Naturalization Services asked to reopen my case. As was demanded, I went to court September 18, 2003. After a telephone conversation to Cameroon, the judge ruled that he didnít believe my story anymore, and consequently he retracted my asylum status. The judge called for the appeal and I was arrested and imprisoned. On October 1, 2003 I went to court and the judge gave me $40,000 bond. As of this year, I havenít been to court despite the fact that I am in prison due to errors in my case. I have never been called to court. I have never been in prison, and for seven months I have a very difficult time. Iím in cells with the condemned, criminals, and drug dealers. On February 2, 2004 I was beaten by my cell mate and mentally traumatized. I spent two days in the hospital in psychiatric care. My visits and calls are monitored, my friends write me and I donít receive what they sent. I suffer from back pain because of the bed, I have hemorrhoids because of the food here, my teeth are getting bad because the dentist would not clean them. I also suffer mentally. For close to six months I havenít had any news of my family. I spend my time in prison reading the Bible and religious books. I attend all the Catholic Services, I have already received my Confirmation. I have never committed a crime nor fault, I entered the US legally, I applied for Refugee status which the judge granted me. I never lacked to show up for court when I was summoned. I enjoy and help my community. I am not a danger to National Security. I am legal. If my refugee status is refused in the United States, Iíll be granted by law the 120 days to pack my bags, say goodbye to my friends, especially my St. Anneís Christian family which has supported me in all of this. After this I will look for asylum in another country, for I maintain that if I return to my country I will be killed. Richard Sitcha

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