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No More Guantanamos

June 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Grassroots news. Pioneer Valley chapter cheers Ravil Mingazov's habeas win; new NMG chapter forms in Burlington, Vermont; trial for anti-torture activists begins June 14 in Washington, DC
  • Other NMG news: David Frakt joins NMG's Advisory Board; follow NMG on Twitter
  • CIA’s torture experimentation on prisoners, with a report on medical professionals' work to stop their colleagues' involvement
  • In the Courts: DC Circuit Court of Appeals overturns federal district court decisions on Maqaleh v. Gates and Kiyemba v. Obama.
 
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Grassroots News

 
Ravil Mingazov’s PioneerValley (MA) champions rejoice over his habeas win.
On May 13, Federal District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., granted Ravil Mingazov’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. However, the win does not necessarily signal his release. He is one of 11 men whom judges have ordered released but who are still being held at the prison, either because—like Mingazov—they cannot safely return to their home country, or because the Obama administration refuses to release them. So far judges have ruled in favor of releasing 36 Guantánamo detainees out of 50, or 72%.
 
Mingazov, who has been held at Guantánamo Bay prison for nearly eight years, is one of two detainees whom the Pioneer Valley No More Guantánamos chapter hopes to resettle. In fact, the group has supported two successful municipal resolutions that demonstrate the communities’ willingness to welcome cleared detainees from Guantánamo and that call on Congress to lift its bans that prevent any detainees from resettling in the U.S. (Read news stories by the Miami Herald and Inter Press Service.) Other NMG chapters are considering similar measures on behalf of their detainees.
 
The unclassified public release of Judge Kennedy’s Memorandum Opinion (PDF) highlights the weakness of the government’s evidence against Mingazov and many factual errors.
 
New chapter forms in Vermont
Last month, Burlington Open Arms became No More Guantánamos’ sixth chapter nationwide. If you live in or near Burlington, we invite you to join the group online here or contact us
 
What you can do
If you have friends in Burlington who might be interested in coming to a meeting, please let them know. A list of our chapters is here. In a country where roughly 60 percent of the country opposes closing Guantánamo Bay prison, more chapters sharing the stories of real detainees can help break through the misinformation that causes so many people—including government officials—to oppose both closing the prison and demanding justice for all men our government is holding in offshore prisons.
 
To find out more about what’s involved in forming an NMG chapter, contact us at info@nogitmos.org or by telephone at 413-665-1150.
 
Trial for anti-torture activists begins June 14 in Washington, DC
On Monday, 27 activists who were arrested on January 21 at the Capitol will face trial. They were arrested on the Capitol steps for displaying a banner reading "Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives." Another 14 activists were arrested inside the Capitol Rotunda, where they had performed a memorial service for three Guantánamo detainees whose 2006 deaths may have resulted from their torture, and not suicides, as the Pentagon reported. 
 
The January protests were the culmination of a twelve-day fast for justice and an end to torture organized by Witness Against Torture in Washington, DC. More than 100 people participated in the fast and daily actions throughout the nation’s Capital. Four of the activists on trial are members of NMG's Pioneer Valley chapter, and several New York City activists are part of NMG's effort in that city.

Other NMG News

We are pleased to announce that David Frakt has joined NMG’s advisory board. Frakt is a lawyer, law professor, and officer in the United States Air Force Reserve. As defense counsel to Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad, he successfully defended Mohammed against charges in a Guantánamo military commission and earned his release through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
 
Follow NMG on Twitter.

CIA’s torture experimentation on prisoners

 
On Monday, June 7, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) released Experiments in Torture, a 30-page report alleging that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) retained medical personnel who participated in experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody who were subjected to waterboarding and other torture methods used in conjunction with coercive interrogations.
 
According to Nathaniel Raymond, who directs PHR’s Campaign Against Torture and is lead author of the report, “In an attempt to justify the war crime of torture, the CIA appears to have committed another alleged war crime—illegal experimentation on prisoners.” Such experimentation violates the 1947 Nuremberg code, a response to Nazi-era experimentation on prisoners.
 
No More Guantánamos joins PHR, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture, and other organizations in calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to begin a criminal investigation of illegal experimentation and research on men in CIA custody.
 

Medical community’s work to stop torture participation

Long before PHR’s report, health workers around the country began working to prohibit medical professionals from supporting torture in interrogations. Here are a few examples.
 
California: On August 14, 2008, the California State Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 19 (PDF), which instructs the state’s licensing boards to inform California health professionals they may one day be subject to prosecution if they participate in interrogations that don’t conform with international standards of treatment of prisoners.
 
New York: The New York Campaign Against Torture (NYCAT) has worked with state legislators on a proposed bill to prohibit health professionals with New York licenses from involvement in torture. The bill has sponsors in both the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate. Fran Geteles-Shapiro, a member of NMG’s New York City chapter, is a member of NYCAT and a supporter of the legislation. Learn more here.
 
Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Campaign Against Torture (MACAT) formed in 2008 to organize toward the development of an anti-torture bill in Massachusetts, using the New York bill as a model. Members of NMG’s Pioneer Valley chapter are involved in MACAT’s work.

In the Courts

Last month, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Obama administration on two cases that extended certain rights to detainees in U.S. custody, thereby barring Bagram detainees from challenging their detentions through a writ of habeas corpus and denying the Guantánamo Uighurs the right to resettle in the U.S. Neither case is likely to go to the Supreme Court, however. If they did, experts predict that both cases would end in 4-4 ties if Elena Kagan is confirmed to replace Justice Stevens and recuses herself for having worked on both cases as solicitor general.
 

Maqaleh v. Gates

The International Justice Network filed the case of Maqaleh v. Gates in 2006 on behalf of four Bagram detainees who were kidnapped outside Afghanistan and brought to Bagram prison, pleading that the men were entitled to the writ of habeas corpus. Last year, Judge John D. Bates ruled that the Supreme Court’s Boumediene ruling extends to Bagram detainees captured outside of Afghanistan, with the exception of Afghan citizens. The administration appealed, and the appellate court agreed, primarily because Bagram prison is in a war zone, which makes it inconvenient for the military to deal with habeas petitions, and because the U.S. government does not exercise the same jurisdiction over the Bagram air base that it exercises at its naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
 
The three-judge panel, in its opinion, assured the public that the Bush administration did not transfer the detainees to a war zone for the purpose of avoiding appeals, as if it is unaware that the Bush administration established the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for the purpose of avoiding U.S. and international law. It left the door open for detainees who are able to prove the government transferred them to an active war zone in order to evade judicial review.
 
The Obama administration is currently negotiating with the Karzai government to place the prison at Bagram under Afghan control. However, according to an unnamed senior Obama administration official, it wants to retain part of the prison under U.S. control for the purpose of holding and interrogating certain detainees whom it captures outside of Afghanistan, including in Yemen and Somalia. Read Agence France Presse story here.
 

Kiyemba v. Obama

In March, the Supreme Court vacated the DC Court of Appeals’ Kiyemba ruling, which overturned a lower court decision by Judge Ricardo Urbina who, in granting their habeas corpus petition, ordered the U.S. government to permit the men to resettle in the United States because they had nowhere else to go. The high court sent the case back to the appellate court to reconsider due to changed circumstances, namely an offer from the government of Palau to accommodate the men temporarily. Last month, the appellate court agreed with the administration that the men could not resettle in the U.S. and cited Congress’s actions barring funding for transferring former detainees to the U.S. as legal justification.
 

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150