July 2010 Newsletter
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Grassroots News: New York City chapter chooses 3 detainees
NYC for Guantánamo Justice
, whose members include Witness Against Torture [www.witnesstorture.org], recently selected three detainees—two currently held in Guantánamo and one who is Bagram prison, Afghanistan. Group members are currently researching the men’s stories, in preparation for sharing them through literature, public events, and the web.
The detainees they chose are:
- Djamel Ameziane of Algeria
- Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif of Yemen
- Amin al Bakri of Yemen, who is currently held in Bagram
Closing Guantánamo fades as Obama administration priority, but not ours
Five months after President Obama’s promised Guantánamo closing date, few us us were completely surprised to read Charlie Savage’s 6/25 article, “Closing Guantánamo Fades as a Priority,”
in the New York Times. According to the article, the prison is now unlikely to close before the end of President Obama’s first term in January 2013.
But NMG was dissatisfied with the administration’s plan to close the prison by transferring detainees to a SuperMax in Thomson, Illinois; just as we are with its plan to hold nearly 50 detainees indefinitely without charge or trial and to try some detainees by military commission, and with its policy of continuing the rendition program and denying detainees at Bagram and elsewhere the writ of habeas corpus.
The work of the grassroots and the detainees’ lawyers remain the detainees’ best hope for freedom and justice. By sharing the real stories of the prisons and their inmates with the American people, to replace the myths they have heard until now, then politicians will be forced to deliver real justice to the men and to end this sad chapter in U.S. history. We hope we can count on you.
Detainees’ imprisonments continue after “release”
Two recent stories about former detainees remind us that a detainee’s release from Guantánamo not only does not end his troubles, but it may not even mean freedom. For example, in January of this year, Slovakia accepted three cleared Guantánamo detainees. Instead of releasing the men, however, the government imprisoned them, in conditions that are so much worse than their situations in Guantánamo that all three men are on hunger strikes. Read Andy Worthington's blog here
Two young Tajiks whom the Bush administration had held for more than 5 years before sending them home in March 2007 are serving 17-year sentences, based on their confessions while in Guantánamo that they had joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The men have maintained their innocense, and their confessions at Guantánamo—if the men actually made them--may well have been coerced. Read their story here
We attribute these men’s continued problems post-Guantánamo to the U.S. government’s poor record-keeping about the men, coercion of false confessions, and a policy of releasing men as “no longer an enemy combatant,” without exoneration. It is up to us to hold our government accountable for wrongful detentions by, at a minimum, doing its utmost to ensure as smooth a transition to freedom as possible, and help rebuilding their lives.
Why Omar Khadr will boycott his military commission
Canadian citizen Omar Khadr is boycotting his military commission, scheduled to begin August 10, because he has no confidence that it will be fair. He fired all of his lawyers and has refused a plea bargain that would keep him in Guantánamo for the first five years of a 30-year sentence and allow him to serve the rest of his sentence in Canada. The plea deal required Khadr to admit to committing war crimes in Afghanistan, even though the principle alleged crime for which Khadr is being tried by military commission—killing a U.S. soldier with a grenade—is not a war crime. The other charges leveled against Khadr, who was 15 years old when captured, include material support and conspiracy. Khadr, who is now 23, could receive a life sentence if convicted.
Read Khadr’s full statement here
Meet NMG’s director at national peace conference July 24
On Saturday, July 24, at 10:15 a.m., NMG director Nancy Talanian and Pardiss Kebriaei, staff attorney of the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights, will give a workshop on Closing Guantánamo. The workshop is part of the National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now
, which will be held July 23 to 25 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany, New York. If you are attending the conference, please come and meet Nancy.
NMG remembers Nancy Foster
Nancy Foster, of Amherst, Massachusetts, died on June 24. She was active throughout her adult life in civil rights, human rights, and social justice causes. As a founding member of the Pioneer Valley chapter of No More Guantánamos, Nancy was part of the committee of Amherst Town Meeting members that built local support for the first-in-the-nation resolution to welcome cleared Guantánamo detainees
to that town, which passed last November. She also organized several public events to educate her community about Guantánamo and torture. Nancy also worked with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee to help pass a Bill of Rights Defense resolution in Amherst
in April 2002.
No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093