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Starving for Justice Video

Starving for Justice Video

5/17/13

Watch this video. Send it to your friends and families. Spread the word. Sign the statement/ad and donate so that it can run in The New York Times as a full-page advocacy ad:

Close Guantanamo! Stop the Torture! End the War Crimes and Violations of Fundamental Rights!

166 men remain imprisoned at Guantanamo. Most are on hunger strike and for many it is now 100 days that they have been refusing food. Some are near death, many imprisoned for more than ten years. They have lost hope of ever being released, although a majority were cleared to leave years ago. As Adnan Latif, a detainee, wrote during an earlier hunger strike, "Where is the world to save us from torture? Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?"[i] Mr. Latif was cleared for release as well, but he died in September 2012, still waiting for justice.

President Obama had said nothing about Guantanamo for years. Facing a growing outcry, he blames Congress for blocking closure. Even under Congress’ existing criteria, however, Obama could have released most of the detainees years ago. He closed the office responsible for processing prisoners’ releases; made it harder for lawyers to meet with their clients by recently banning commercial flights to the prison and barring emergency calls by attorneys to the detainees; ordered forced feeding through excruciating means and by strapping prisoners down (a violation of medical ethics and torture in itself); and authorized an April 13th, 2013 assault in which guards fired rubber bullets on hunger strikers. Obama does not need Congressional approval: as Commander-in-Chief, he has the power to shut the prison down now.

The continuing torture at Guantanamo is part of larger and alarming developments. When he ran for office, Obama promised to restore the rule of law. Instead he has claimed and exercised unchecked executive powers beyond what George Bush used. He refuses to prosecute officials for their use of torture, yet aggressively prosecutes any whistle-blowers who expose war crimes, most flagrantly in the torture, slander and draconian legal charges against Bradley Manning. By signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012,[ii] Obama made indefinite detention, based on merely an accusation, the law of the land. These actions amount to institutionalizing and, in important respects, escalating the “Bush Doctrine.”

In the name of “security,” our government has tortured at least one hundred people to death. In the name of the “war on terror,” thousands have been detained without a chance to face their accusers or even know what charges they are held under. In opposition to international law, Obama has implemented a policy of killing with drones across sovereign borders, deciding who will die by Hellfire missiles - without charges, trials, or any evidence other than what only Obama and his close advisers deem sufficient. At least 176 children have been killed by drones in Pakistan alone and between 3-4,000 non-combatants have died in drone attacks. John Bellinger, who drafted Bush’s justifications for targeted killings, concludes that the Obama administration has decided to kill people with drones so that they don’t have to imprison them.

Fundamental civil liberties have been eviscerated. In the name of safety, fear, or revenge, American presidents cannot be allowed to arrogate to themselves the power of judge, jury and executioner. Actions that utilize de facto torture, that run roughshod over the rule of law and due process, and that rain down terror and murder on peoples and nations, amount to war crimes. Such actions cannot in any way be morally justified in the name of “protecting Americans.” The lives of people living here are not more precious than any other people's lives.

It is up to the people to stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so. The fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government’s policies are inextricably intertwined with our own: we must listen and respond to their cry for justice. We demand the release of the cleared Guantanamo prisoners now, and an end to indefinite detention without charge for the others, before they lose their lives as well. 

Signed, to date, by over one thousand people, including Alice Walker, John Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Junot Diaz, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Eve Ensler, Dave Eggers, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Haggis, Bianca Jagger, Ariel Dorfman, Erica Jong, Michael Moore, Ron Kovic, Moby, Tom Morello, Mark Ruffalo, James Schamus, Carl Dix, Oliver Stone, Cindy Sheehan, and Cornel West, joined by attorneys for the Guantanamo prisoners.



[i] Adnan Latif’s poem was published in Mark Falkoff, Ed., Poems from Guantanamo, University of Iowa Press, 2007. Describing Latif, Witness Against Torture, http://witnesstorture.org/survivors/adnan-farhan-abdul-latif/ states: “Originating from Yemen, Adnan Latif was sold for bounty at the Pakistan/Afghanistan border in 2001, was one of the first men to be brought to the camp back in 2002, suffered torture including solitary confinement for the first three years, then willingly undertook a hunger strike for justice for over six months in 2005, was later held at the base psychiatric ward due to his deteriorating mental health, and was forbidden under a moratorium – like the other fifty-six Yemeni men detained at Guantánamo yet cleared for release since 2009 – by the Obama administration to return to Yemen because of that country’s instability. At the time of his death at the age of thirty-six years old, Adnan Latif spent ten years, seven months, and twenty-five days detained at Guantánamo.”

[ii] The bill itself can be found at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr4310/text. The 2013 version of NDAA, also signed by Obama, includes language that declares that habeas corpus rights are a Constitutional right of Americans (non-Americans’ rights are ignored entirely), but that statement is window dressing rhetoric, as Joe Wolverton’s commentary on it indicates:

The new bill does nothing to prevent the indefinite detention of Americans under the 2013 NDAA; furthermore, it only reiterates that habeas corpus is a right in courts established under Article III of the Constitution. That such a right exists in the courts of the United States has never been the issue. The concern of millions of Americans from every band in the political spectrum is that Americans detained as “belligerents” under the terms of the NDAA will not be tried in Article III courts, but will be subject to military tribunals such as the one currently considering the case of the so-called “Gitmo Five.”

There is not a single syllable of the 2013 NDAA currently being considered by the Senate Armed Service Committee on Thursday that will guarantee Americans will be tried in a constitutional court and not a military commission.

 

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