Thursday, February 18, 2016

From Witness Against Torture

We hear a beautiful sound
It is the breaking of chains
We see a path full of hope
We have found the way
Let them go home 
Let them go home
Let them go home
Let them go today

Dear friends,

The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has now been open longer during Obama’s presidency than the Bush administration. A month ago, on January 11, we gathered and brought our visions for the detainees' homecoming to the White House.  See video here. We sang our hearts (and voices) out asking for the immediate release of the men detained in Cuba.  Over and over we sang our plea, “Let them go home” so they can return to their families, to their friends, to their homes. We celebrate the release of 12 men since leaving Washington D.C.  These men are free and one step closer to going home. We are excited to say that one of these men is Fahd Ghazy, who was detained in Guantanamo as a juvenile. Throughout 2015, we focused on Fahd’s story, holding a banner with his portrait and reading his words in front of the White House and throughout D.C. The freedom of these 12 men is a beautiful sound and we hope they are doing well.  

President Obama has the power to continue to push for the release of the 91 men that remain in Guantanamo. Before he leaves office, he should use everything at his disposal to send these men home. Any plan to further detain them in the U.S. is unacceptable. The torture and indefinite detention they have and continue to suffer must end now. They have waited too long for their freedom.

During our trip to Cuba in November, we started formulating some demands concerning the release of the men left at the prison and communicated them to the U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis. We in the WAT community insist that shutting down Guantanamo must mean shutting down indefinite detention. We submit the following demands as critical to the effort to “close Guantanamo” once and for all - Please share this with friends as widely as you can:

1. Each Guant√°namo detainee must either be charged and fairly tried in federal court, or be released to countries that will respect their human rights.  

2. Expedite the release of those that are cleared.  35 of the current prisoners have been cleared for release, yet they continue to languish behind bars.  Justice delayed is justice denied.

3. Release the men who have been tortured.  The US is a signatory of the UN Convention Against Torture.  The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has reported that the Guantanamo Bay prison is non-compliant to this Convention and has named indefinite detention as a form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.  The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's Torture Report has extensively documented instances of torture by the CIA.  Some of the victims are currently housed in Guantanamo.  

4. Provide reasonable resettlement options, including torture treatment services and reparations.  To ensure accountability for torture and indefinite detention, released prisoners should be provided with critical social services to facilitate their re-entry into society.

5. Publicly acknowledge and apologize for the egregious human rights violation at Guantanamo during the War on Terror.  This acknowledgement is essential for preventing torture, indefinite detention, and other violations from being perpetrated by future administrations.

6.Close the base. The U.S. must immediately relinquish Cuba’s sovereign territory.

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