Day 13 of 100: Why not phone the White House?

posted by Mike on February 2nd, 2009

Another “Free the Uighurs” vigil today–various media stopped by, and ABC News wrote a nice blog post.

Tomorrow we’re kicking off a national week of phoning the White House and Attorney General (it’ll be Eric Holder’s first day) and saying 1) thanks for planning to close Guantanamo, and 2) free the Uighur detainees immediately.

Text of the “Free the Uighurs” campaign e-mail after the jump.

uighurs header

Call President Obama and Attorney General Holder and tell them:

  1. You support the Executive Order to Shut Down Guantanamo.
  2. You request that, as a first and immediate step, the Obama administration should drop the Bush administration’s appeal of Judge Urbina’s order to release the 17 Uighurs into the United States.

White House: 202-456-1111

Attorney General: 202-514-2001

BACKGROUND

The Uighurs are members of an intensely persecuted minority in western China and were sold to U.S. forces by bounty hunters. Most of them were cleared by the military of any offense in 2003. In September 2008, the U.S. government formally acknowledged that none of them is an enemy combatant. At present, all three branches of the government have acknowledged that the Uighurs should be released. All 17 have been exonerated by both military and habeas courts, and members of Congress have called for their release to the only place they can go: the United States.

Holding that their continued imprisonment was unlawful, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled in October 2008 that they should be present in his court for release into the United States with appropriate conditions. Detailed arrangements to welcome and support the seventeen men had by then been made by religious and refugee organizations. Further commitment of support has been provided by the Uighur community of well established U.S. citizens in the D.C. area.

THE CURRENT PROBLEM

The Bush administration appealed Judge Urbina’s ruling to prevent any release into the U.S. “on their watch.” But there was not then, and is not now, any legal basis, any security condition, much less any moral or humane reason, for extending the baseless imprisonment of the Uighurs even a day longer.

— Read Amnesty International’s Action Alert
— Read a letter from the Uighurs Attorneys

— Learn more about the Uighurs

WHY RELEASE THEM IN THE U.S.?

It is not surprising that some of the men still held at Guantanamo would be treated with extreme suspicion if they were returned to their home nations-persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, even executed. Alternative homes for men persistently described for years as “the worst of the worst” have understandably been very difficult to find.

5 uighursWhile publicly alleging that it was eager to find suitable places to take in prisoners cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay, the Bush Administration kept suggesting behind the scenes that they were very dangerous persons. No wonder no nation stepped forward to receive them! Moreover, the Chinese Government has forcefully pressured nations strong and weak to deny refuge to these prisoners, who were already vigorously persecuted in China before their detention. So it is exceedingly unlikely that any nation other than the U.S. will accept them.

For the U.S. to welcome these wrongfully detained persons will set an important precedent in this nation and present a significant example for the rest of the world; other nations would then be much more likely to accept prisoners against whom no evidence of wrong-doing has been presented after years of confinement.

obama image“It is in the interests of the United States that the executive branch conduct a prompt and thorough review of the circumstances of the individuals currently detained at Guantanamo…”

— President Barack Obama Executive Order, January 22, 2008

PLEASE CALL TODAY to urge the immediate release of the Uighurs in accord with Judge Urbina’s ruling – in particular by urging the Obama Administration and Attorney General Eric Holder to dismiss the appeal and vacate the stay preventing the settlement of the Uighurs in the U.S. Call the White House at 202.456.1111 and Attorney General Holder 202.353.1555 right now.

These national call-in days are being organized by a coalition of human rights, and peace & justice groups, including Witness Against Torture, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, Defending Dissent Foundation, United for Peace & Justice, Network of Spiritual Progressives, Pax Christi USA, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, The Constitution Project, Peace Action, Washington Peace Center, War Resisters League, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Afterdowningstreet, World Can’t Wait, School of the Americas Watch, Granny Peace Brigade, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, CodePink, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Pace Bene Nonviolence Center and others.

100 days logoWitness Against Torture invites you to come join the 100 Days Campaign to Close Guantanamo and End Torture, which includes a sustained presence at the White House as well as screenings, lectures, community meetings, and creative actions across the U.S. Organize an event in your community or come to D.C. – we will provide food, housing, and a Monday thru Friday schedule designed to keep the pressure on to close Guantanamo with all due haste!

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