NORTH CAROLINA STOP TORTURE NOWPO Box 12707
Raleigh, NC 27605
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Arrests at Federal Courthouse in NYC as Hunger Strike at Guantánamo Widens include North Carolina Activist
From Reports by Witness Against Torture
New York City, April 22 – Twelve concerned citizens, responding to reports that 84 men — more than half of those imprisoned at the US detention facility at Guantánamo Bay — are hunger striking to protest their indefinite detention, were arrested at approximately 3 p.m. in a “die-in” on the steps of the Federal Courthouse at Manhattan’s Foley Square (40 Centre Street).
Those arrested, some in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, held signs with names of the men who have already died under US custody at the prison. Fearing that more prisoners could die soon, the protesters are demanding that immediate measures be taken by the Obama administration to close the prison.
The hunger strike, begun on February 6, has reached dire proportions. Following a raid by guards of one of the prison sections (“Camp 6”) on April 13, inmates were newly thrown into solitary confinement and examined by medical staff. As a result, the number of those acknowledged as hunger striking by the US military has sharply climbed. Sixteen of the men are being force fed — a painful practice condemned by human rights organizations and described in testimony from Samir Mukbei published in the New York Times on April 14. More than half of the 166 prisoners at Guantánamo, including some of the hunger strikers, have been “cleared for release” by US authorities.
“The hunger strike,” says Jeremy Varon, an organizer with Witness Against Torture, “is the predictable result of a failed policy of indefinite detention that is morally unacceptable and politically unsustainable. If action is not taken to change that policy, more prisoners will die and our nation’s shame will deepen.”
“I took part in the protest at the Federal Court,” says North Carolina resident Beth Brockman, “because justice is broken when men who our government has no plans to charge or put on trial ... are held for years.”
“Shaker Aamer, the sole UK citizen still at Guantánamo,” added protestor Brian Hynes, “recently pleaded, ‘I hope I do not die in this awful place. I want to hug my children.’ These words, from a man cleared for release 6 years ago, haunt me. The United States is slowly killing men in a prison that should never have existed. This nightmare must end.”
Since the hunger strike began, Witness Against Torture has been holding vigils and rallies throughout the country, calling the White House and US military, and sending letters to the detained men. Following a 7-day fast in late March, it has organized a “rolling fast” that will continue as long as the hunger strike does, in which more than 100 people nationwide have participated.
Learn how to support the rolling fast or a local effort organized by Duke University and University of North Carolina students via our Action page.
An editorial by Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel—a man detained for more than 11 years without charge—published by The New York Times on April 15, notes:
"The only reason I am still here is that President Obama refuses to send any detainees back to Yemen. This makes no sense. I am a human being, not a passport, and I deserve to be treated like one."
Johnston County Clean Up Continues
Fourteen members or allies of the statewide, grassroots coalition, North Carolna Stop Torture Now, worked for two hours to clean up 2.5-miles ofSwift Creek Road adjacent the southern perimeter of the Johnston County Airport and in front of Aero Contractors, a transportation hub of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.
The community event was part of Governor McCrory's LITTER SWEEP initiative, a two-week program, April 13-27, emphasizing roadway cleanup.
Participants in the campaign are eligible to win cash prizes in the Unusual Litter Contest that runs as part of the scampaign.
There was considerable speculation about the contest.
"I wonder if we'll might find remnants of the 'rule of law' strewn in these ditches," one man quipped as the group divided to take on separate sections of the roadside.
Earlier in the year, nearly two dozen volunteers turned out for a similar effort that was covered by the News & Observer.
In the news reporting, North Carolina Stop Torture Now leader and Johnston County resident Allyson Caison said: "I care about the county, I care about the rule of law, and I care about the environment. This was a perfect match."
Nonpartisan Task Force Releases Indisputable Evidence that U.S. Tortured, Top Officials Responsible
According to The New York Times a nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that "it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture" and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.
As The New York Times reported: "The Constitution Project’s task force on detainee treatment, led by two former members of Congress with experience in the executive branch – a Republican, Asa Hutchinson, and a Democrat, James R. Jones – seeks to produce a stronger national consensus on the torture question."
"Like the still-secret Senate interrogation report, the Constitution Project study was initiated after President Obama decided in 2009 not to support a national commission to investigate the post-9/11 counterterrorism programs," the Times reported.
In one of its most important findings, the Task Force concluded that the extraordinary rendition program — which has inherent problems with human rights and international legal standards — was extended, and thus abused, to deal with people like the Libyans, who had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or the September 11 attacks. One Libyan, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, had earlier been rendered by U.S. forces to el-Gaddafi’s custody and apparently tortured there.
The Task Force found "that the United States has violated its international legal obligations in its practice of the enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention of terror suspects in secret prisons abroad."
The Task Force notes that: "U.S. officials were sometimes involved in the interrogations of transferred detainees or received notice of detainees’ allegations regarding torture in proxy detention, and were therefore aware ofconditions and treatment in the receiving countries."
The Report contends: Ongoing classification of these practices serves only to conceal evidence of wrongdoing and make its repetition more likely.
The report also notes that the U.S. public has been aware of the extraordinary rendition program since 2005, when North Carolina Stop Torture Now was organized.
In the words of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – often displayed at NCSTN events:
"There comes a time when silence is betrayal."
2-4 p.m., Sunday, May 19, 2013
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh
Protesters Gather in Solidarity with Hunger Strikers at Guantánamo; Call on Obama to Fulfill Promise to Close the Prison.
April 11, 2013 – NCSTN Activists and allies joined those in more than 20 cities to protest the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and demand that the Obama administration immediately address the causes of the hunger strike and fulfill its promise to close Guantánamo.
The action was organized nationally by the Center for Constitutional Rights and other human rights allies in solidarity with prisoners who are in the sixth week of a hunger strike to protest conditions at the prison camp. Bob Geary, a columnist for the Indepnedent Weekly described the action in his online column.
The actions came on a day that 25 prominent human rights and civil liberties organizations sent a joint letter to President Obama urging the closure of Guantánamo.
Said organizers of the protests, “The vast majority of the 166 men still trapped at Guantánamo have been held for more than 11 years without charge or fair trial. The Obama administration must take swift measures to humanely address the immediate causes of the hunger strike and fulfill its promise to close the Guantánamo detention facility.”
Retired Colonel Morris Davis Says U.S. Torture Policy Puts the Lives of Captured American Troops at Risk and May Have Created Terrorists
Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, a former prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay spoke at four venues in the Triangle and Johnston County. His talks, which highlighted the injustice of holding prisoners indefinitely and without charge was covered by The Smithfield Herald, The News & Observer and The Fayetteville Observer and Davis was interviewed on The State of Things a public-interest program on WUNC-FM 91.5.
As the Fayetteville Observer reported, Davis argued that torture does not elicit information that can be used in the court of law and said the practice has damaged the nation's image.
"We are not the shining city on the hill," he said. "If we're the country we claim to be, we've got to get back to the values we claim to represent. Regardless of whether it's illegal, it's immoral.
"War is hell. But the rule of law makes it a little less hellish," he added. Morris said the United States helped write the international rules that bar torture, but opened the door to "exceptions" during the George W. Bush presidency.
At every talk, Davis made the point that the military considers the Geneva Conventions its “bible,” and the U.S.’ abandonment of the rule of law has been opposed along the way by many in the Armed Forces and the JAG corps.
The Fayetteville Observer also noted that "Morris was critical of both the Bush and Obama presidencies, speaking against the use of drones to kill suspected terrorists and the failure to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba."
There is also a short video of Col. Davis reviewing the topics of his talk available.
Organizational and Individual Endorsements Sought
The next steps in seeking accountability for our state's role in extraordinary rendition have begun and your support is needed. Four members of North Carolina Stop Torture Now represent the group on the Organizing Committee for a North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture.
Details are here.
In a July 27, 2011 editorial titled: Honoring those who stood against torture the Los Angeles Times notes that:
Please get in touch if your organization recognizes the need for formal examination of North Carolina's role in extraordinary rendition and is ready to commit the time and energy of identified individuals to:
The task of building a broad coalition of organizations and opinion-leaders from around the state and among a diverstiy of political viewpoints, communities of faith, ethnic identity, and socio-economic strata will require sustained effort.
We are convinced, though, that working to achieve accountability is essential.
Our safety, our national ideals, and the integrity of the men and women who risk their lives to defend them depend on it.
Who We Are ...
North Carolina Stop Torture Now is a grassroots coalition of individuals representing themselves and—through their involvement and witness to neighbors—a diversity of faith, human rights, peace, veteran, and student groups across the state.
We are particularly concerned that state and local government officials and individual citizens recognize their own complicity in the extraordinary rendition program and take steps to provide restorative justice to victims and survivors, to air a full account of human rights violations, and to demand top-down accountability for the authors and perpetrators.
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