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April 13 Public Forum in Leverett, MA, to Support Town Meeting Resolution Welcoming Cleared Guantanamo Detainees

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April 9, 2009
 
CONTACTS:    Nancy Talanian, Director, No More Guantánamos, 413-665-1150, ntalanian@nogitmos.org
Elizabeth L. Adams, 413-522-7505, eadams333@gmail.com
 
On Tuesday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m., Leverett supporters of a Town Meeting resolution to welcome cleared Guantánamo detainees to the community will host a public forum at the Leverett Library to discuss the resolution and how its passage will support the closure of the prison with justice.
 
Three attorneys from the area—Buz Eisenberg, Carol Gray, and William Newman—are among the speakers. Eisenberg and Newman have represented Guantánamo detainees, and they will share stories about the prison and its inmates. Gray has lectured on Guantánamo Bay prison to law students and undergraduates studying constitutional law. Nancy Talanian, founder of the organization No More Guantánamos, will talk about the two detainees whom the resolution’s supporters hope to welcome: Ahmed Belbacha, who fled Islamic terrorists in his native Algeria, and Ravil Mingazov, who fled religious persecution as a Muslim serving in the Russian army.
 
The Guantánamo resolution on the Leverett Town Meeting warrant is identical to the resolution that Amherst (MA) Special Town Meeting approved on November 4, 2009, which was the nation’s first. It (1) calls on Congress to lift its ban preventing cleared detainees from resettling in the U.S. and (2) welcomes a few cleared detainees once the ban is lifted. Voters will consider the resolution at the Leverett Town Meeting on April 24.
 
Elizabeth L. Adams, a Leverett resident and the resolution’s lead petitioner, said that Leverett voters’ approval of the resolution “would go a long way toward healing the wounds inflicted on prisoners and our collective conscience by US torture policy and illegal indefinite detention.” Adams has supported efforts to close the prison with justice for several years, working with Witness Against Torture [www.witnesstorture.org] and the Pioneer Valley chapter of No More Guantánamos.
 
Talanian also hopes the resolution will pass. “Each time a community like Leverett takes a stand on the men’s behalf, it causes other people to question the false stereotypes about the men as ‘the worst of the worst’ that have been promulgated for more than eight years,” she said. “Most of the remaining detainees have been cleared unanimously by all government agencies who have roles in protecting the country. Those who cannot safely return home are really no different than other refugees whom western Mass. communities have welcomed in the past.”
 
The Leverett Library is located at 75 Montague Road. The program is free and open to the public, and the library is accessible. Cosponsors include the American Civil Liberties Association of Massachusetts and Pioneer Valley No More Guantánamos.
 
No More Guantánamos [www.nogitmos.org] is a coalition of concerned U.S. residents, organizations, and attorneys who are working together to ensure justice for the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram air base in Afghanistan, and other offshore prison sites maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon around the world. We work to ensure basic human rights for all prisoners, including the right to be either charged for crimes and tried in accordance with international law or released.
 
The organization formed soon after President Obama’s executive order to close Guantánamo Bay prison by January 22, 2009. Chapter locations besides the Pioneer Valley include New York City; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Tallahassee, Florida.
 
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Media advisory:
 
PROPOSED RESOLUTION BY THE TOWN OF LEVERETT, MA, TO ASSIST IN THE SAFE RESETTLEMENT OF CLEARED GUANTÁNAMO DETAINEES
 
WHEREAS, President Obama has vowed to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base by January 2010; and
 
WHEREAS, many detainees at Guantánamo have been cleared by our government of wrongdoing and have been determined to pose no threat to the United States; and
 
WHEREAS, many of these detainees cannot be repatriated because they are either stateless or fear the harm awaiting them if returned to their home country; and
 
WHEREAS, our government has asked other countries to accept cleared detainees but has banned their settlement in the United States; and
 
WHEREAS, these detainees have suffered unjust imprisonment for many years; and
 
WHEREAS, the Pioneer Valley has many resources to help such detainees with trauma from their imprisonment; and
 
WHEREAS, the Pioneer Valley has welcomed in the past many refugees from a variety of traumatic experiences in other countries,
 
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Leverett Town Meeting of April 24, 2010
 
1) Urges Congress to repeal the ban on releasing cleared detainees into the United States and
 
2) Welcomes such cleared detainees into our community as soon as the ban is lifted.
 
And BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this Resolution be sent to the President and Attorney General of the United States, the United States Senators for Massachusetts, and the United States Representative for Massachusetts’ First District.