August 2013 Archives

The repatriation of two Algerian prisoners reported today leaves some 164 men indefinitely detained at the U.S. concentration camp. The vast majority held have never been charged or tried, and dozens continue their months-long hunger strike.

Senior telecommunications major Bianca Russelburg, dressed in military attire, paces in front of mock Guantanamo Bay detainees at Bracken Library on Aug. 28. Amnesty International organized the protest to bring attention to practices at the American detention center. DN PHOTO JONATHAN MIKSANEK


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today marked 200 days of Guantanamo hunger strike

Why this Twitter storm?
25 August marks day 200 of the current hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay. A protest that started in February 2013 against worsening conditions of detention and perpetual indefinite detention without charge or trial that has already lasted almost 12 years for almost all the prisoners, the response was first denial, followed by repression and torture, through the use of solitary confinement, the removal of personal items from cells, beatings, physical searches tantamount to rape, the use of plastic bullets, force feeding by nasal tube and other forms of disproportionate pressure against debilitated prisoners.

While the number of prisoners reported to be on hunger strike more than six months later has fallen to around 40, with several dozen being force fed, this does not mean that the hunger strike is any closer to ending. Promises made by President Obama to look into the issue and the detention of prisoners again have yet to produce any concrete results three months later. Although he recently appointed an official within the State Department to look into the release of prisoners, he had fired the person he had previously chosen to do this job in 2009 a week before this year's hunger strike started.

Many people are still unaware of this hunger strike and the mainstream media has played down its importance, focusing mainly on the process of force feeding and the use of force and less on the reasons for the hunger strike and the prisoners' legitimate demand to know why they are still held there after almost 12 years without any charges against them or prospects of release. Hunger strikes can be fatal and cause long-term serious health problems.
Please join us to raise awareness and show solidarity with the Guantánamo hunger strikers. Follow us on Twitter @shutguantanamo
9064854.0.jpgLet's not forget that as the California prisoners enter their second month of hunger strike, we have scores of Guantanamo Bay prisoners who have been on hunger strike since the start of the year because of their indefinite detention by our national government...

Saying No to the Architecture of Solitary Confinement and Cruelty

by drawing the most extreme form of violent punishment into the open and challenging its legitimacy, it creates an opportunity for people to see the bigger picture and challenge the much larger culture of violence in many other ways as well.

unfinished business

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12.JPGphoto c/o SF Examiner, Free Bradley Rally, August 21

When law dean Christopher Edley steps down on December 31, 2013 his failure to uphold ethical standards for faculty conduct will leave an ugly legacy for his successor and subject the rest of us to the unrelenting rantings of U.S. torture program architect John Yoo.

Shame on Yoo's colleague. And shame on the University of California.
obamaFAIL.jpgWhen 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.

"On Friday, President Obama spoke to us about surveillance as though we were precocious children... By observing Obama's condescension, I don't mean to suggest tone was the most objectionable part of the speech. The disinformation should bother the American people most. The weasel words. The impossible-to-believe protestations. The factually inaccurate assertions. -- Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

post last updated August 12 

August 6 marked sixth months of coordinated prisoner resistance to the unrelenting brutality of President Obama's indefinite detention policy.

86 of Guantanamo's 166 prisoners have been cleared for release. Of the remainder, only 6 have been formally charged of a crime. The de facto torture these men suffer, many for over 10 years, cannot in any way be morally justified.

It is up to us to stand for principle and justice when our institutions and public officials refuse to do so. 

Act Against Torture has gifted us their portable Guantanamo prison cell which we premiered on August 2nd at Oakland's First Fridays Festival of Art and Culture. We repeated the tableau yesterday at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf (left).

Send us your ideas for future actions.

Break the silence. Reach out to more people who need to be part of this.

Gitmo's prison camps were built, in principle, to hold and interrogate captives outside the reach of US law. Nearly 800 Muslim men have been imprisoned since it opened, and the vast majority of them have never been charged with any crime. Since he was inaugurated in 2008, President Obama has twice promised to close Gitmo, but 166 men still languish in indefinite detention. It is a place where information is contraband, force-feeding is considered humane care, staples are weapons, and the law is rewritten wantonly...

Wednesday, August 28: San Jose

August 12: Baltimore
August 7: Hackensack
August 6: San Jose
July 31: Oakland
July 26: Peekskill
July 23: Santa Barbara
July 22: Phoenix and Montgomery 

"passion by definition is not a rational thing. People.. take to the streets over a sense of right and wrong, and by one of the strongest emotions I have ever witnessed in my lifetime -- a desire for justice on a world chock full of unfairness. -- Will Bunch

see It's the injustice, stupid!
The "aiding the enemy" charge in the Manning case was based on military law, and it is not directly applicable to leakers in other parts of the government or to reporters and publishers. But the theory on which it was based has echoes in the more general espionage laws...

a dodged bullet is still a bullet

[Judge Ellis] said the case "exposes the inherent tension between the government transparency so essential to a democratic society and the government's equally compelling need to protect from disclosure information that could be used by those who wish this nation harm...

"The rights protected by the First Amendment must at times yield to the need for national security." 

It is shameful for a country that imprisons a quarter of our planet's prisoners to exempt from its relentless prosecution the particular people guilty of the most severe crimes, while prosecuting public servants who actually fulfilled their oaths and complied with legal principles requiring disclosure of known rights abuses...

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Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

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