07 July 2014

Torture Awareness Month Activities by Group 342 Members

Torture Awareness Month Activities by Group 342 Members

Barbara visited Washington, D.C., on 26 and 27 June and attended several events related to Torture Awareness Month and the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture (26 June).  


Exposing the Truth of U.S. Torture: Restoring Human Dignity, 26 June, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Panel discussion held at the El-Hibri Foundation and cosponsored by Karamah (Mulsim Women Lawyers for Human Rights), National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Amnesty International USA. Panel members included: 
  • Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, founder and  chair of Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights and member of the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment
  • Ambassador James R. Jones, co-chair of the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment
  • Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation


Jones opened the event by discussing the formation of the task force, its work, and the publication of the report Exposing the Truth of U.S. Torture: Restoring Human Dignity, which was produced after more than two years of research and extensive interviews with former detainees, military and intelligence officers, interrogators, and policymakers. Task Force members also visited so-called black sites. Dr. al-Hibri described some of the torture methods used on detainees held by the CIA since 9/11. Diane Randall gave a religious viewpoint, emphasizing the God-given dignity of each human being, even those suspected of terrorism. The panel members then entertained questions from the audience.  
  
For additional information on the Constitution Project's Task Force on Detainee Treatment and the complete report, visit the group's web site.


Legislative visits to Senator Kelly Ayotte and Senator John McCain,  27 June (morning)


Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has introduced a measure that would place further restrictions on the transfer of  Guantanamo Bay detainees as an amendment to the “minibus” spending bill being considered in the Senate. Barbara joined members of Witness Against Torture, some clad in orange jumpsuits, on a visit to the Russell Senate Building to speak with the senator’s staff and present a letter addressed to the senator.


Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has recommended that Guantanamo Bay Prison be closed. However, after  the capture of the Benghazi suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala, McCain tweeted “Guantanamo is where we put terrorists . . . where else can you take him to?”

Here is the text of the letters Witness Against Torture delivered to Ayotte and McCain.


White House Vigil, 27 June (afternoon)


Joining members of Witness Against Torture, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC), National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and other human rights groups, Barbara participated in a vigil at White House to urge President Obama to use his executive authority to close Guantanamo.  Participants spoke about the injustice of indefinite detention and about the force-feeding of detainees on hunger strike, a procedure considered torture by international human rights standards. In particular, participants remembered Adnan Latif, a detainee cleared for release who continued to languish at Guantanamo until he was found dead in his cell in 2012.


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