This is something I have signed up to be a part of on June 26, here in Austin. But you can be involved in your city, as well, or go to D.C. and speak out with a delegation there. Please read on. This is a very important, and serious, issue that needs to be resolved NOW.
I am writing to you from the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This base has become synonymous with U.S. disregard for human rights and rule of law. It is the icon of bad U.S. policies in the “war on terror,” where people are held indefinitely without even the right to ask a court to review the lawfulness of their detention. Just last week, a fourth person died of apparent suicide in Guantanamo. Many more have attempted suicide as an escape from the uncertainty that comes with life in one of Guantanamo’s prisons.
Yesterday, I observed pretrial proceedings in military commissions that were established by the Military Commissions Act (MCA). To read about what happened, visit the Denounce Torture blog (http://blogs.amnestyusa.org/denounce-torture/archive/2007/06/05/live-from-gitmo—update-06-04-07.htm?tr=y&auid=2738054). This process is seriously problematic as it is unlike any other U.S. court in that it allows evidence obtained through coercion or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to be used to convict someone. However, the MCA also took away the federal court’s jurisdiction to hear any challenges to this unfair process when it stripped the right of habeas corpus for any non-citizen that the President decides is an “unlawful enemy combatant.” This provision has also lead to dismissal of habeas cases for the hundreds of others who have never been charged with any crime, and likely never will be.
We have to push Congress to reverse course and amend the MCA. We have to insist that every person in U.S. custody has the basic right to ask the government to show cause for their detention.
You can help change this. During the last week of June, concerned individuals nationwide will visit their elected officials’ district offices or come to Washington, D.C. to tell Congress to do everything in its power to ensure basic rights. Apply to be a delegation leader (https://www.kintera.org/site/apps/ka/rg/register.asp?c=lgJVJ4PJItH&b=2724253&en=kwLQI6PVLlIUJ6NZLkJPK7PUKfL2KrN1IdIVJiNXIeKZKhNVLnIfF)and let your elected officials know that the American you believe in does not lock people up and throw away the key just because the President said so.
Advocacy Director, Domestic Human Rights and International Justice
Amnesty International USA
P.S. – If you’re not sure you’re up for leading a delegation, consider signing up to join one instead.