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Posts tagged ‘torture’

A Legal Black Hole

A Legal Black Hole

Our country continues to preserve the disgrace of Guantanamo bay. How is it in the United States of America that people cleared for release continue to rot in a legal black hole for years on end? Either there are 86 people there cleared for release or else there are not. Either they were wrongfully detained or else they were not. And if they deserve to be freed, then they must be freed.

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Close Guantanamo Now Action Page: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1126.php

And yet cowards of both parties would rather heap injustice on a multitude of innocents, lest some right wing nut accuse them of accidentally letting someone go who might, BECAUSE of our torture and mistreatment of them, turn to future violence. How can we call ourselves a just and civilized country, and continue to operate on the principle that it doesn’t matter who we lock up as long as we’re locking up somebody?

Guantanamo was conceived of as an outlaw garrison, contrived to be beyond the reach of any manner of justice. Even our currently reactionary Supreme Court could not swallow that one whole. We have lots (and we do mean lots) of perfectly good prisons here in America, that hold lots of convicted terrorists right now. And we did not need kangaroo court tribunals to put them there. We need to either convict these people fair and square or we need to let them go.

The most cowardly suggestion of all is that we should be afraid of housing anyone so convicted in actual American prisons. “I don’t want these terrorists in prisons in MY state,” you hear members of Congress say. If our supermax prisons cannot protect local people from the criminals inside the prisons, what’s the point of having prisons at all?

Close Guantanamo Now.

Though our corporate news media have avoided the subject like a plague, the hunger striking detainees at Guantanamo are being brutally force-fed, itself a form of torture. Torture by America has not stopped, they’re just trying to keep it quiet. And you should know there are some amazingly valiant activists who are on indefinite hunger strikes themselves, to try to force attention on this issue.

Here is what Cynthia Papermaster has to say.

We are asking President Barack Obama to immediately begin releasing the 86 cleared for-release Guantanamo detainees. My hunger strike is now 31 days old. I have not eaten solid food for 31 days, and am existing on less than 300 calories a day. I’ve lost about 20 pounds. I am committed to continuing my hunger strike until the President, who has the clear authority to do so, begins to release the cleared, innocent men from the prison. Cynthia Johnson has been fasting on mostly liquids for nearly 25 days.

Our City Council in Berkeley passed a Resolution co-authored by me, Peace and Justice Commissioner Rita Maran, and the national group “No More Guantanamos”, in October 2011, which welcomes one or two cleared detainees to settle in our community, at private expense. We’ve been successfully raising funds for this purpose.

The Resolution also said that the Council would urge Obama to close Guantanamo Prison and Congress to lift the ban against detainees resettling in the United States. Well, that hasn’t happened, yet we think that if the men had a place to live, a safe and welcoming place, that Obama could use his Executive Order privilege to allow them to live in the USA, in Berkeley.

We also know that there is a waiver in the National Defense Authorization Act that allows him to release detainees. So there’s really no reason for him to refuse, especially since I, Elliot Adams and Tarak Kauff are on long-term, open-ended hunger strike. Elliot is on day 60 of his hunger strike. Tarak is on day 47. We are all taking less than 300 calories a day. You can see our profiles and hunger strike statements at www.closegitmo.net. Click on “Hunger Strikes/Fasts” tab.

Because my health is at risk, I think it’s time to step up the actions for helping the men go free.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said- “These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

Peaceteam.net

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Stop Execution of Torture Victim

Dear Gabriel,

W1305EAIAR1_2Please help Amnesty stop the imminent execution of my brother, Abdullah Al Qahtani.

This week my brother’s life could be taken for a “confession” he was tortured into making. Abdullah was beaten, burned and asphyxiated by Iraqi security forces into “confessing” to being a member of terrorist organization al-Qaeda.

Now our fear is that the Iraqi authorities will execute Abdullah without even allowing him to have a fair trial first. It could happen at any time now.

Please do what you can to stop this execution.

About a month ago, Amnesty called on you to stop my brother’s execution. Together, we have been successful in buying some time. For that, I would like to express my family’s heartfelt thanks and gratitude to you, Amnesty supporters, for your precious help and support. It has brought much needed attention to Abdullah’s plight.

However, Abdullah’s time is once again running out. If the Iraqi court agrees with the prosecutor that Abdullah should not get a new trial, then a deadly chain of events would be put in motion. In less than 24 hours — without fair trial or even a phone call to us, his family — Abdullah’s execution could be carried out.

Abdullah needs an opportunity to present his case fully and fairly. He deserves the chance to exercise his human rights.

This risk of execution has placed our family under great stress. Abdullah is in poor health after enduring both torture and the effects of a hunger strike. Our parents are suffering. I don’t know if our mother has the strength to survive if Abdullah were to be executed.

We plead with Amnesty and its supporters to do everything possible to stop Abdullah from being treated inhumanely and for his rights to be restored.

Please take this action now. Help me save my brother’s life.

My deepest thanks,

Brother of Abdullah Al Qahtani, Saudi man at risk of execution in Iraq

Threat of Execution

Dear Gabriel,

W1304EAIAR1Abdullah al-Qahtani is still alive, but the threat of execution is still dangerously real.

Abdullah is the Saudi Arabian man whose attorneys say he was tortured by Iraqi security forces into confessing to being a member of a terrorist organization. He was sentenced by Iraqi courts to death by hanging.

Last week, pressure from activists like you likely helped spare Abdullah’s life, but make no mistake — his execution is imminent. His attorney urges continued vigilance:

“We thank Amnesty International members for their support; it is helping. We call for everybody’s continued help to save Abdullah’s life, to pressure the Iraqi government to give Abdullah the chance to a fair and just trial.”

Keep up the pressure — click here to join our call for justice for Abdullah. Your actions can help spare this man’s life.

With great appreciation,

Samir Goswami
Director, Individuals and Communities at Risk Program
Amnesty International USA

BTW – Amnesty’s just-released 2012 Word Death Penalty Report depicts a stark rise in executions in Iraq — at least 129 people were executed, almost double the 2011 figure of at least 68. Abdullah’s case is a clear illustration of the lack of respect for human rights among Iraqi authorities.

Keep The Light Burning

Dear Gabriel,

ye2012_generic_rcWhen Amnesty founder Peter Benenson published his “Appeal for Amnesty” in 1961, little did he know he lit the fuse of a human rights revolution.

It was as if people were waiting for this signal.

Fast-forward to today and it is hard to believe the scale of the transformations that followed. Women’s rights, children’s rights, indigenous rights, workers’ rights, the rights of disabled persons – all of these have been strengthened by international standards and in the public consciousness.

Each of these human rights achievements sprang from the ideals and efforts of a movement powered by people like you.

When you support Amnesty International USA, you are a part of this heroic history. If you give right now, your gift will unlock matching funds – but only until Dec. 31.

When Peter lit the first Amnesty candle, he was reminded of the words of a 16th-century man who faced persecution with these words (paraphrasing), “We have today lit such a candle as shall never be put out.”

We free the unjustly imprisoned.
1966, 1,000 prisoners of conscience released since founding

We are recognized for our groundbreaking work.
1977, Awarded Nobel Peace Prize for work to secure freedom and justice

We break the chains of oppression.
1986, Members write to 10,000 people of influence around the world urging them to pressure the South African government to end human rights abuses under apartheid

We elevate human rights.
1993, After intense lobbying, United Nations establishes UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights

We turn torturers into outlaws.
2002, International Criminal Court treaty enters into force after years of lobbying

We defend the defenders.
2010, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is finally set free after spending some 15 years under house arrest
For 50 years, supporters like you never let Peter’s light fade. Today we are three million members strong and growing with each human rights success.

I am so proud of what Amnesty has become, and so hopeful for what it can be.

To unleash the extraordinary achievements of tomorrow, we need your investment in this movement today. I urge you to take advantage of our matching gift challenge before it ends on Dec. 31.

LIGHT THE WAY: Donate to Amnesty today.

Together we can deliver hope for humanity.

Frank Jannuzi
CHIEF ADVOCACY OFFICER
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA

Listen To Joan Baez

Dear Gabriel,

All this month, artists and human rights activists like me have proudly raised our voices to defend human rights with Amnesty International. Now, it’s your turn.

Sunday is your last chance to double your gift. Please join me by donating to Amnesty International right now.

Your gift matters – collective action releases people from prison, torture and execution:

“I don’t regret a single moment. I celebrate the work that I do and the people I work with…We are in it together.”

That’s Jenni Williams, the inspiring co-founder of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise. She’s been arrested 43 times and been beaten severely for defending human rights in her country. Jenni credits Amnesty International members with saving her life multiple times.

Jenni is right – we’re in this together to shine a bright light on the horrific acts of violence committed by Syrian security forces against their own people, in the hopes we can help end the atrocities.

We’re in this to fervently declare love a right, not a wrong, and work to overturn the discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).

We’re wholeheartedly taking part in this because we refuse to yield to oppression and to hate, and we will not let slip our hard-fought gains.

With the world facing unprecedented assaults on human rights, Amnesty’s mission is more relevant and urgent than ever.

Your gift will help Amnesty rise to these challenges. Donate now.

Very truly yours,
Joan Baez
Musician, Human Rights Activist

Help Family In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

No one wanted it to come to this, but it has.

My father, prominent Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is on a 9-week hunger strike protesting the life sentence he received for peaceful protest.

In prison, security forces broke his jaw in four places and subjected him to severe physical, psychological and sexual torture. Since his arrest last year, my mother was fired from her job, my sister was arrested five times, and my brothers-in-law were arrested and tortured.

Authorities decide when to let anyone from my family see him. The human rights of my family and of thousands of peaceful Bahrainis like us have been deeply violated by the government.

My father doesn’t want to end his life. He wants to end injustice and violence against the Bahraini people.

Help me break through now, to save his life. Demand the immediate and unconditional release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

Many governments have shamefully ignored the daily and widespread human rights violations in my country. As controversy swirls around Bahrain’s plans to host the Grand Prix auto race this month, Bahraini authorities desperately try to assure the world that all is back to “business as usual.” But the people of Bahrain continue to call for change, and my father may pay for that goal with his life. Pressure from people like you may force action.

As one activist to another, I ask for your help securing the release of my father and of all of the unjustly imprisoned activists in Bahrain. Delay could mean death.

Please take action for my father today. I am forever grateful for your support.

In solidarity,

Maryam al-Khawaja
Head of Foreign Relations, Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Daughter of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja

Syria Bleeds

>Dear Gabriel,

When will Russia do right by the people of Syria?

In the six weeks since Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s bloody crackdown, 1,179 Syrians have been killed. Amnesty International has received the names of well over 6,500 people killed since March 2011.

On Tuesday Russia vowed to keep pumping arms into the country — arms used to massacre civilians. Russia claims Syrian president Bashar al-Assad needs them to defend against opposition fighters.

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of human rights abuses have been committed by state security forces. Amnesty has documented an extremely disturbing — near medieval — pattern of torture and humiliation of anyone merely suspected of opposing the government.

Satellite imagery from Homs and Hama show civilian neighborhoods pocked with artillery impact craters. Field guns are still trained on residential areas and armed forces have not been removed from cities, in direct defiance of a UN General Assembly resolution from mid-February.

It’s time for Russia to stop opposing strong action by the UN Security Council to end the violence in Syria.

Urge Russia to help end the human rights catastrophe in Syria.

While Russia defies international pleas for cooperation, evidence mounts of widespread crimes against humanity committed by security forces.

Amnesty’s new report “‘I Wanted to Die’: Syria’s Torture Survivors Speak Out” details systemic and horrific abuses committed in Syria’s detention centers. Former detainees (men and women) interviewed by Amnesty said that they had either experienced or witnessed 31 methods of torture and other ill-treatment:

“I was very badly beaten. They used pincers to remove flesh from my legs.” – Karim

“We were hung from wood — crucified — while blindfolded and handcuffed, and then beaten mercilessly for several hours.” – Musleh

“I could hear people screaming from the torture, which was worse than physical torture.” – Abd al-Baset

Russia can make a difference in Syria. It must.

Join Amnesty as we ratchet up the pressure on the Russian government. Sign our petition urging Russia to use its influence to bring an end to the grave human rights violations being committed in Syria.

Thank you for all you do to stand up for human rights.

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East & North Africa
Amnesty International USA

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