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Basic Toolkit

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1. Organize a local kickoff meeting:

  • Contact friends, allies, church groups and other local organizations interested in human rights, justice, and fairness.
  • Hold a kick-off meeting:  See sample agenda.

2. Choose a prisoner

Following your initial meeting, NMG will help you find a prisoner to support AND get set up on the web. Contact us at info (at) nogitmos (dot) org.

3. Tell his story:

  • Find basic information on the prisoner in this section. See links for research.
  • Put together a story about who the prisoner is, about his family and work, and about how he came to Guantánamo. Here is an outline to help you get started.  Put your story on your NGM group's web page on the NMG site. We’ll help you.
  • Create a video about the prisoner and post it on the YouTube. It can be viewed from the prisoner’s page you create.
  • Think of other ways to share your prisoner's story with your community, such as the suggestions below.


4. Build local and national interest in your prisoner's case

Here are some suggestions: 

  • (Optional) Some local communities have initiated resolutions.  Here are links to a resolution to welcome a detainee AND a resolution advocating for him to be charged and tried or released.
  • Use your group’s NMG web page to keep your members and your community informed about what you are doing.
  • Build your local coalition by inviting local organizations and individuals to support your effort:
    • Post your meetings in local newspapers.
    • Offer speaker training to members to prepare them to speak to local groups and religious bodies about  your group, your prisoner's story, and the vision and goals of No More Guantánamos.
  • Talk to the media and write opinion editorials, letters to the editor and blogs on behalf of the prisoner and his right to due process.
  • Hold a public forum. Speaker(s) may include the prisoner’s attorney or other legal experts, someone who can share the prisoner’s story and answer questions, and possibly federal, state or local government representatives.
  • Invite religious leaders to help in building the community's compassion and support for justice and hospitality.  For example, ask if they would be willing to:
    • Sponsor interfaith clergy meetings or invite you to speak at a meeting.
    • Draft a clergy statement (see samples from Amherst, MA, and Tallahassee, FL)
    • Give a sermon about the prisoner and the need for the community to have compassion, to pursue justice, and perhaps to offer hospitality.  Read this sermon from Tallahassee.
    • Write about your community's detainee in their newsletter.  The Reverend Robert Hirschfeld of Grace Church in Amherst wrote this article for his church's newsletter, Grace Notes.
  • Print flyers, fact sheets, bumper stickers and buttons.  Find the following samples from Massachusetts here (PDFs):
    • 1-fold handout
    • Fact sheet about Amherst resolution
    • Frequently-asked questions about Amherst resolution, with sample responses
  • Conduct a petition drive. It’s a great way to reach people who may not otherwise consider joining your effort.  Here is a sample petition. (PDF)
  • Hold a press conference.
  • Do interviews on local, regional or national television. Call in to talk radio shows or offer to be a guest on such a show and field callers’ questions and comments.
  • Organize group meetings with legislators, in their district offices or in Washington, DC, and bring a cross-section of your community to the meetings. Bring a packet of information to leave behind, including your detainee's story. Follow the meetings with a press conference, and include the legislator if s/he is willing.
  • Organize a call-in to your legislators.

5. Let the prisoner know about your effort.

  • Communicate with the prisoner through his lawyer and with the family. If the prisoner and the family cannot read English, ask someone who knows their language to translate your letters.   Here are some suggestions:
    • Print cards or literature with the prisoner's story, with his address, and invite people to write letters.
    • At a public education event, have a large card ready for audience members to add their greetings inside.  You can download a Word file to print a card on 11" x 17" card stock (folded size 8.5" x 11") here.
    • Tip: Keep correspondence short and sweet, and leave out numbers or anything that military censors could suspect as code.  Mail delivery to Guantánamo prisoners is slow, and all mail is censored and redacted or rejected outright.
  • If you would like to send token gifts, ask the prisoner’s attorney for suggestions. For example, attorneys sometimes bring prisoners gifts of special foods the prisoners like that are not served at Guantánamo, such as pastries or fruits.


Toolkit for Welcoming a Detainee