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Re “After FBI probes, questions on granting of asylum” (Page A1, July 5): Asylum seekers flee their countries on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion. Specific dangerous conditions occurring at a specific point in time precipitate their escape from home, during which they leave behind everything known and loved.

We must separate the Boston bombing and its aftermath from those seeking refuge, and not allow our national dialogue on immigration to be hijacked by anger and fear. The UN Declaration of Human Rights says without qualifiers: “Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

I am reminded of one patient who, after cleaning his family graves, which were destroyed by war, finally felt relief. Another, after visiting her country, which was still recovering from war, realized she had made the right decision to leave.

In my work with torture survivors, I share the pain of many in the immigration process who are unable to grieve the deaths of family members or sit by them in illness. To bar those who are forced to flee their countries from ever returning home does not take into account life circumstances and changes in country conditions, including the establishment of peace.


Some say being forced into exile is the greatest form of torture.

Dr. Linda Piwowarczyk
Boston Center for Refugee
Health and Human Rights