Thursday, June 26, 2008

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Candlelit Vigil

We were but nine
but we stood nine strong
in silent solidarity
sending the light of hope
and human compassion
the tortured
the shackled
the disappeared


O Light
pure and life-giving
pierce the darkness
of prison cells
and hearts imprisoned
by hatred and cruelty

Flood despairing hearts
with hope
and arid hearts
with compassion

Release captives
from their torments
and captors
from their spite

O Father and Mother
of us all

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Well, I don't think it's proper civic etiquette to send a thank-you letter to the five Supreme Court justices who upheld the rights of the Guantánamo prisoners so magnificently today. So I went for a long walk, inhaling a fragrant cocktail of honeysuckle and freshly mowed grass, discovering a burst of blue wildflowers, and meditating on the innocence of a rabbit nibbling at his evening veggies....and thanking God.

Supreme Court Reinstates Habeas Corpus Rights for Detainees at Guantánamo

In a stunning blow to the Bush Administration in its war-on-terrorism policies, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay have a right to pursue habeas challenges to their detention. The Court, dividing 5-4, ruled that Congress had not validly taken away habeas rights. If Congress wishes to suspend habeas, it must do so only as the Constitution allows — when the country faces rebellion or invasion....

The Court also declared that detainees do not have to go through the special civilian court review process that Congress created in 2005, since that is not an adequate substitute for habeas rights. ...

Congress, it concluded, unconstitutionally suspended the writ in enacting that [Detainee Treatment] Act.

Nice to know the Supreme Court can still do the right thing! (But that 5-4 split sure is scary!!)

This decision is not only a rebuke to the Bush administration but also to every senator and representative who abdicated his/her responsibility and voted for the Military Commissions Act.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

Right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Locked Up Alone
Since his arrest, Walid has had very little contact with his family, who thought he was dead until, several years after his initial detention, he was able to send them a postcard. He has not, to his lawyer’s knowledge, been able to speak with any of his family members. Since learning of his whereabouts in 2005, his family has been writing to him and has sent him photos—including pictures of nieces and nephews he has never met.*

When I was a kid, this is the sort of thing they told us the communists did to political prisoners.

Although in 2004 and 2005 we were told that we were innocent, however, we are being incarcerated in jail for the past 6 years until present. We fail to know why we are still in jail here. We are still in the hope that the US government will free us soon and send us to a safe place. Being away from family, away from our homeland, and also away from the outside world and losing any contact with anyone, also being forbidden from the natural sunlight, natural air, being surrounded with a metal box all around is not suitable for a human being.**

"Surrounded with a metal box" ???? Where are these people being kept -- in a storage vault?

Wake at 4:30 or 5:00. Pray. Go back to sleep. Walk in circles—north, south, east, west—around his 6-by-12 foot cell for an hour. Go back to sleep for another two or more hours. Wake up and read the Koran or look at a magazine (written in a language that he does not understand). Pray. Walk in circles once more. Eat lunch. Pray. Walk in circles. Pray. Walk in circles or look at a magazine (again, in a foreign language). Go back to sleep at 10:00 p.m.***

As I read the Human Rights Watch report, Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo, I just keep asking myself WHY? Why are we treating human beings this way? And I ask myself HOW? How could attorneys advising the President possibly compose memos in support of such a place? Since when do attorneys approve of torture and indefinite detention under supermax conditions?

One of the most prominent former attorneys at the Office of Legal Counsel graduated with a B.A., summa cum laude in American history from Harvard University. Didn't he learn anything there about persecuted peoples who rejoiced when they landed on our shores because they knew they were safe at last? This same attorney went on to Yale Law School. Is that where they taught him that it was an attorney's duty to sanction locking up people who were not accused of any crime?

I grew up believing my country was a country of justice and generosity, not unfounded suspicions and skullduggery. I was taught that the communists were the Masters of Deceit, not the officials of my government.

By the way, these people are prisoners, not detainees. A "detainee" is a kid sitting in after school detention. So...what about the prisoner identified only as "B," are we safer now that he has begun to hallucinate and to hit his head against his prison wall?

Tonight I pray for the prisoners in the Guantánamo camps and wonder how they will ever pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
**The Group of Uighurs
***Attorney for one of the Uighurs