Saturday, December 30, 2006

International Day To End Torture

Endorsed by the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network. To join the delegation to Washington DC on January 11, 2007 or to participate in local actions contact GCISN truth_force@yahoo.com

CALL TO ACTION: International Day of Action to Shut Down Guantánamo

"There is little question of how history will respond to Guantánamo…it will be looked back on with condescension and bemusement. How could we be so foolish, misguided, cruel? How we will respond is a legal question and a political question. But it is most of all a moral question. Will we respond with courage or cowardice? This is our choice."

- Joseph Margulies, a lawyer challenging the indefinite detention of the prisoners at Guantánamo

On January 11th, 2002, twenty hooded and shackled men shuffled off a plane from Afghanistan, arriving at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo. In an attempt to sidestep the Geneva Convention protections for prisoners of war, the Bush administration created a new category of “enemy combatant” for these men captured in the “war on terror.”

Since that time, more than one thousand men and boys have been imprisoned at Guantánamo. Accounts of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment have been condemned by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and other reputable bodies. The prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes as a way of protesting their treatment. Many have attempted suicide; three men killed themselves on June 10th 2006. Desperation, fear and frustration mark their confinement.

Five years later, not a single prisoner has been charged, tried or convicted of any crime. Many have been released because no evidence has been found against them, but more than 430 men remain in indefinite detention without hope of release. The United States has abandoned law and justice.

January 11th, 2007 marks five years of unjust imprisonment, isolation, beatings, interrogation and abuse for these men. We must say: no more. We must say: no longer. For our nation of laws, for our democracy, for our humanity and theirs, we demand small but essential steps to help return our nation to the best of our own traditions.

We call on the United States government to:

· Repeal the Military Commissions Act and restore Habeas Corpus.
· Charge and try or release all detainees.
· Withhold funds for the proposed $125 million construction of new military courts at Guantánamo.
· Clearly and unequivocally forbid torture and all other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, by the military, the CIA, prison guards, civilian contractors, or anyone else.
· Pay reparations to current and former detainees and their families for violations of their human rights.
· Shut down Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and all other U.S. prisons overseas, including secret CIA detention facilities.

We mark January 11, 2007 as a day of national shame. But we can also mark it as a day of citizen action. How? By acting on behalf of our fellow human beings in Guantánamo, their bereaved families and all victims of the “war on terrorism.”

We declare January 11, 2007 an International Day of Action to Shut Down Guantánamo. In Washington, DC we will march from the Supreme Court to the U.S. Federal Court. At the Supreme Court, Guantánamo Lawyers and others will address the press. Individuals will then proceed to Federal Court, taking on the names and identities of the men in Guantánamo and submitting Habeas petitions on their behalf. With our action and our bodies, we will forge the path that the Center for Constitutional Rights and other legal advocates demand on behalf of their clients. Outside the Federal Court on Constitution Avenue, people will read testimonies and names of prisoners, perform street theater and hand out information. There will be solidarity demonstrations from Amsterdam to Boise, Idaho and a National Call-In Day to Congress.

We invite you to come to Washington and participate, either as an individual or as part of an affinity group. If travel is not an option, join or plan an action in your own community. Around the country, groups are planning vigils and actions at courthouses, federal building and public squares. In other countries, the focus will be on U.S. Embassies and military facilities. For a full list of both National and International actions, visit www.witnesstorture.org

If you plan on coming to DC, we encourage you to form affinity groups and be in touch with organizers ahead of time for details on the scenario. Contact Matt Daloisio (Daloisio@earthlink.net) or Frida Berrigan (Frida.Berrigan@gmail.com).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gunther and Elena were married in 2001. Gunther is retired US citizen. He worked as a factory and health care worker in Cleveland. Elena, a non-citizen, worked in health care and as private nurse in the Cleveland area. They lived in Gunther's Mayfield Village home for eight years.

One day Elena had a surprise when she went to the Cleveland office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to renew her work permit. She was arrested in September, 2005, because her U.S. visitor visa had expired. Elena's legal visitor status had lapsed during her first marriage with an abusive spouse. When she married Gunther, he petitioned for her but was denied by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

When Elena was arrested, Gunther, hired a second immigration attorney. Gunther also called the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network. I drove him to his first meeting with the attorney, because he was so upset that he could not drive his car. It was too late to save her from deportation. She was deported in October 2005 and barred from re-entering the US for ten years.

She was deported to Moscow, Russia. Her final destination was her native country, Ukraine, where her ailing mother lives. Elena is a talented health care worker and artist but there is no job for her in Ukraine. Gunther retired in 2003 and lives on his social security payments; hardly enough money to send much help to Elena. The couple had hoped to find a sponsor in Canada, where Elena could be closer to her husband and work, until she could legally return home to Mayfield Village. Elena sent this email, in May 2006 to the Immigrant Support Network to explain her talents and work experience:

I am an art therapist, or an activity pearson in nurcing facility or hospital/ I have great experiance working with sick people who got stroke, aids, got different amputations, depressed, got alzheimers desease. I also have an experiance to work with hospise patience [patients], I also did a lot of art resoration /old paintings,/ in my past, also I got qualification in theraputic massuse [masseuse]. At this time I am steing [staying] with my friends in Moscow, because now they checking my identification because I need a new passport its drives me insain. thank you don for everything you doing for me and gunther, because if i can go to Canada i can be close to my husbend. thank you a lot don,i was very popular art therapist in meridia south point, i am very good and patient with sick and disable people and i know such professions are on demend in us because not everyone wants to be arround sick people all the time, but i have no problem and got great satisfaction to make sick people to forget they problems even for a few hours, i am missng communication with patients now, its wos a part of my life like everything else Now I have no job and my mother dieng from cancer Elena Smolej

GCISN, attempted to find a Canadian sponsor, until the situation changed with her mother's sickness. Now Elena has a sponsor and job opportunity in Spain where she can earn a decent wage so that she will afford to get her mother required medical care and provide some semblance of normalcy for both of them. She needs $500 in fees for travel documents to allow her to work in Spain. Her family can pay half of that. Gunther would love to send the $250 amount if he had it, but living on a fixed income leaves him powerless to help. Please take a moment to consider volunteering with GCISN or to make a tax-deductible contribution to help Elena. Make your check payable to the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network (GCISN), write "Elena" in the memo line and mail to World People Exchange, 4323 Clark Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44109, or drop in Sunday for doughnuts or visit www.WeAreAllImmigrants.blogspot.com, using the Paypal button you can make your contribution. Please call 216-631-2233 ext. 2 or email truth_force@yahoo.com with any questions or comments.