Human Rights petition grows to 4,566 signatures
Campaign News | Tuesday, 28 March 2006
Nobel prize winners lead way on message to US
Havana, 27 March: THE document An end to hypocrisy on the issue of human rights has now been signed by 4,566 public figures and organizations from 79 countries, the Network of Networks in Defense of Humanity announced.
The petition began with the signatures of 400 intellectuals and artists, among them Nobel Prize winners José Saramago, Portugal; Harold Pinter, United Kingdom; Nadine Gordimer, South Africa; Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentina; Rigoberta Menchu, Guatemala; Wole Soyinka, Nigeria; Dario Fo, Italy; and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, N. Ireland, subsequently joined by Zhores Alfiorov, Russia.
Others began to add their names as soon as the document went into circulation at a rate that has steadily continued, as can be observed on the website via which allows those interested in halting the violations and humiliation to which prisoners incarcerated in the illegal jails set up by the United States to sign:
The most recent signatories range from the National Indigenous Federation of Ecuador (CONAIE), the Association of Women Farmers of Portugal, the Amazonian Federation of Nationalities; the Lombardy Regional Federation, the Citizens Action Reflection Collective (Chile) to the Panama Social-Cáritas Pastoral.
The acts of torture committed by U.S. soldiers on Iraqi prisoners are also being condemned in other forums. For example, from Panama, correspondent Fausto Triana reported on March 23 that Florentín Meléndez, second vice president of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) and the special raconteur for torture and maltreatment in prisons, qualified the U.S. prison on the Guantánamo Naval Base as a black hole and affirmed that the world clamor to close that penitentiary is a legitimate one.
The Pentagon is holding around 490 terrorism suspects in Guantánamo, whom it considers illegal combatants, thus not affording them the condition of prisoners of war. The inmates arrived on the Guantánamo Base in early 2002 from Afghanistan.
The United Nations recommended the immediate closure of the Guantánamo prison in February given the many exposés of the practice of torture and force feeding, ignored by Washington.
Meanwhile, in Quito, figures from the indigenous, national and minority movements have signed the document, including Blanca Chancosa, CONAIE leader and in Peru, Oswaldo Huamanchunes, Roberto Huamini, Carlos Huancas, Yoel Huarcaya and Juan Huaringa, among other Quechua social fighters, have added their names.
In Argentina, along with names such as Fernando Pino Solanas, Luisa Valenzuela, Sylvia Iparraguire and Noel Jitrik, more than 500 people have rallied to the demand, while 537 are reported from Spain, including Alfonso Sastre, Joaquín and Almudena Grandes.
From Brazil, the list adds 146 figures: the eminent architect of Brasilia Oscar Niemeyer, Walter Salles, Leticia Spiller, Emir Sader and singer Beth Carvalho; and the poet Aja from Barbados.
In a recent editorial The New York Times affirmed that of the hundreds of people arrested for alleged links with terrorist activities, many of them would appear to have done absolutely nothing, and do not even have the hope of a fair trial to look forward to, because Guantánamo was created outside of the law.
Under the title: An end to the hypocrisy on the issue of human rights, the document has been reproduced by international media such as The Guardian newspaper (UK), L’Unita (Italy), Página 12 (Argentina) and Colatino, the main Salvadoran daily, among others.
When the petition was launched, many U.S. intellectuals and artists immediately added their names, including Harry and Julie Belafonte, Danny Glover, Alice Walker, Howard Zinn, William Blum, Ramsey Clark, James Petras, James Cockcroft, Lucius Walker and Mark Rosenzweig.
This summer U.S. Americans can see The Road to Guantánamo, by British director Michael Winterbottom, in which he exposes the tragedy experienced by three former British prisoners in that arbitrary jail.
The film narrates the story of Britons Rhuhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul, who were unjustly arrested in Kandahar, Afghanistan after a brief stay in Pakistan, where they had traveled for Asif’s wedding.
Via a teleconference organized in London for the Constitutional Rights Centre, the three related their experiences. “It was a very hard time for us, being detained in Guantánamo is like being in a zoo. You are in a cage for 24 hours of the day and the guards are watching 24 hours out of 24,” Shafiq Rasul explained.
US should end illegal detention at Guantanamo, say Nobel winners
HAVANA, March 14: More than 400 intellectuals from all over the world, including Harold Pinter from the UK, on Tuesday denounced the hypocrisy of the United States and its European Union (EU) allies on the issue of human rights, calling on Washington to close its illegal prisons.
On behalf of the celebrities, Roberto Fernandez Retamar, head of Cuban cultural group Home of the Americas, made the statement at a press conference here.
"The United States and its EU allies have successively prevented the UN Commission on Human Rights from condemning the massive and systematic violations of human rights promoted in the name of the so-called war against terrorism, " the statement said.
It also accused the EU governments of refusing to admit the "testimonies and evidences submitted by citizens of their countries, who have been victims of several forms of torture at the Guantanamo navy base."
"They have also allowed the flight of CIA (the Central Intelligence Agency) aircraft carrying prisoners to illegal detention centers in Europe and elsewhere," it said.
The statement called on the Commission on Human Rights or the Council, which will replace it, to demand the immediate closure ofthe U.S. detention centers and "ceasing of all violations of humandignity."
The statement was issued one day after the 62nd session of the UN Commission on Human Rights opened in Geneva, which coincided with the broadcasting of news footage of U.S. military torturing Iraqi prisoners.
The statement was signed by more than 400 intellectuals from Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Cuba, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United States and other countries, including eight Nobel Prize laureates.
Fernandez said the statement was not a document to be presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights, but a moral judgement made the intellectuals to gain political effectiveness.
The statement would be published in major newspapers of Europe and the United States on Wednesday, Fernandez added. The Guardian in the UK published it as a letter (See below)
About 500 detainees are being held in the Guantanamo prison, east Cuba. Most of them were captured in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan in 2001.
Organizations across the world have condemned Washington's move of indefinite detention without charge. The United States argues,however, it has the right to hold people it describes as enemy combatants because it is effectively at war with al-Qaida.
The United Nations urged Washington last month to release all detainees in Guantanamo prison, or bring them to trial and shut down the facility.
End illegal detention centres
Published Wednesday March 15, 2006 in the Guardian, UK
LONDON March 15: We, the undersigned writers and artists, demand that the US immediately cease using the Guantánamo Bay base as an illegal detention centre and to close all of its arbitrary detention centres where the systematic abuse of human rights and dignity are still taking place. As we write, the 62nd session of the UN commission of human rights in Geneva is about to begin and new images of the US military torturing prisoners in Iraq are being published. Yet the US and its allies in the EU have thus far prevented the UN commission from condemning the massive and systematic violations of human rights that have taken place in the name of the so-called war on terror.
EU countries have ignored the testimonies of even their own citizens who have been victims of torture in Guantanamo. Several have allowed the overflights of CIA aircraft carrying prisoners to detention centres and elsewhere. The UN commission on human rights (or the council proposed to replace it) must end this hypocrisy and demand the closure of Guantánamo Bay and all the detention centres created by the US, as well as the cessation of torture and the deliberate violations of human dignity.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
And 407 other writers and artists
To sign the petition: