By Tom Carter:
Amnesty International report: conditions for Guantánamo prisoners worsening
7 April 2007
A report released Thursday by Amnesty International (AI) describes “deteriorating” conditions at the infamous Guantánamo Bay, Cuba prison camp, citing an increase in the use of physical isolation to break prisoners, and an accompanying rise in mental health problems.
The human rights group’s report calls for the immediate closure of the camp and affirms the right of victims to pursue reparations in US courts.
The report, “Cruel and Inhuman: Conditions of isolation for detainees at Guantánamo Bay,” dismisses assurances from US authorities that Guantánamo detainees are being treated “humanely” and afforded “high quality” medical care.
The report draws a parallel between the inhuman conditions at Guantánamo and the conditions at “super-maximum” prisons operated inside the United States.
According to AI, the Guantánamo prison currently houses 385 men from around 30 countries. These prisoners, many of whom have been incarcerated for more than five years, are being denied all rights associated with US and international law.
None have had their cases reviewed by any legitimate court, and are being held in violation of fundamental democratic principles.
In December 2006, according to the report, a facility dubbed “Camp 6” was opened in Guantánamo.
Camp 6, which now houses about 165 individuals, “created even harsher and apparently more permanent conditions of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation in which detainees are confined to almost completely sealed, individual cells, with minimal contact with any other human being.”
And Guantánamo is just the tip of the iceberg.
Hunger strike in Guantánamo: here.
Dear Avaaz Member,
Bush’s top advisors are divided over whether to close Guantanamo prison forever. A massive global outcry could tip the balance. Click to sign our petition — we will publish it in key US papers next week:
Take Action Now
Adel Hamad grew up in a small village in Sudan. Through hard work, he became a schoolteacher. To support his family, he took a job as an assistant at a community hospital in Afghanistan. Then, late one night, he was torn from his bed and sent to hell – Guantanamo Detainee #940.
Like most of the nearly 400 detainees trapped at Guantanamo, Adel Hamad has had no trial. He has seen no family members for four years. Experts overwhelmingly believe he was not a terrorist. Even US military officers reviewing his situation have called his detention “unconscionable.”
Take Action Now
Nearly 400 people are stuck in President Bush’s prison at Guantanamo without trials or even being charged with a crime.
Last week, nearly 50,000 of us from 160 countries signed Avaaz’s call to close Guantanamo prison – making it the largest petition in the world opposing President Bush’s assault on international law. Next week, we will run the petition in major US newspapers. To be counted and to see a map of which countries have the most signatures, click here.
Guantanamo’s former commander General Jay Hood has admitted, “Sometimes we just didn’t get the right folks.” Without trials, innocent people get caught in the mix. And let’s face it, even guilty people have the right to a trial and to know what crimes they are accused of. Meanwhile, regimes around the world are using Guantanamo to excuse their own human rights abuses.
But now we have a chance for progress. Last week, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates finally said Guantanamo should be closed. President Bush’s advisors are split down the middle – and a global outcry could tip the balance and push Bush to close Guantanamo forever.
Please sign the petition calling on the US government to close Guantanamo and for its inmates to be tried in a legitimate court or set free:
Next week, we’ll run ads featuring the petition in Washington, DC newspapers read by top Bush officials. It’s time to show them that citizens from every country on earth want this injustice to end.
Ricken, Milena, Tom, Graziela and the Avaaz Team
PS. If you want to hear more about Mr. Hamed’s case, you can check it out at
Howard Zinn and the Cuban Five
Posted by: “Compañero” email@example.com chocoano05
Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:38 pm (PST)
The case of the Cuban Five: an unforgivable act of
On the afternoon of April 9th, 150 people filled a lecture
hall at Northeastern University Law School in Boston,
eager to hear Professor Howard Zinn discuss the roots of
U.S. policy towards Cuba. Salim Lamrani, the editor of
Superpower Principles, traveled from Paris where he
teaches at the Diderot, to speak specifically about the
case of the Cuban Five. Following the lecture in Boston,
he flew to California to participate in a series of
lectures throughout that state at law schools and
Nancy Kohn, from the July 26 Coalition of Boston, chaired
the meeting. Setting the tone for the afternoon, Nancy
said “Today, we want to explore the double standard used
by the Bush administration in its so called war against
terror.” In her introduction, she thanked Professor Zinn
for being there. “He is an acclaimed historian, playwright
and social activist, and the author of more than two dozen
books, including A People’s History of the United States.
He is truly a national treasure who brings total integrity
to the study of history.”
It was Professor Zinn who started the afternoon with a
little bit of sarcasm: “Nobody knows about the Cuban Five.
You are lucky that by the end of the day, you will be
among the smartest people in this country because you will
know something that most people do not know. This is the
horror of our media that such an important event in our
history has been kept away from us.”
He presented an historical overview of U.S. relations with
Latin America, particularly toward Cuba. He explained that
because the “Soviet threat is no longer present, the
United States government now justifies its policies saying
that we are against Cuba because Castro is a dictator.” In
joking about this reason, he said “But we like dictators;
in fact we like them so much that we put them in power all
over the world.” In closing, Howard Zinn said that the
case of the Cuban Five is an embarrassing example of
injustice in our country. The justice system in the U.S.
is supposed to be democratic but instead we know that
politics determines who goes to jail.” He concluded saying
that “the case of the Cuban Five is an unforgivable act of
Following Professor Zinn, Salim Lamrani detailed the
history of U.S. terrorism against Cuba, denouncing the
hypocrisy of the Bush administration. Lamrani accused Bush
of currently protecting the worst terrorist in the Western
Hemisphere, Luis Posada Carriles. Posada is responsible
for the death of 73 people in the downing of a Cubana
airliner 40 years ago, and many other deaths since then
due to his terrorist actions. Professor Lamrani explained
the case of the Cuban Five and all the irregularities
since they were arrested. He ended his remarks by
denouncing the complicity of the media for hiding this
important information from the people of the United
Alicia Jrapko from the International Committee for the
Freedom of the Cuban Five, talked about the international
campaign on behalf of Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva who
have been denied visas and so cannot visit their husbands
in prison. She also mentioned all the difficulties that
other family members go through to visit their loved ones
in prison. “The Five and their families are not alone. In
this struggle for Justice they are accompanied by the
entire Cuban people, their government, and people and
organizations from all over the world including many of us
here in the United States” Jrapko said.
One of the highlights of the program was when Nalda
Vigezzi from the July 26 Coalition of Boston and one of
the co-chairs of the National Network on Cuba, read a
message sent by Antonio Guerrero for the event. In his
letter Antonio wrote that he could speak about many facts
in this history of the Cuban Five, but “I do not need to
explain anything when I know that at this meeting, will be
speaking two admired, beloved and respected professors —
Howard Zinn and Salim Lamrani, recognized specialists in
the relations between the United States and Cuba.”
At the end of the lecture, Nancy Kohn asked participants
to get involved in the case and to keep the pressure on
their elected officials. She explained that one easy way
to do something was to send the postcards that were left
in each seat at the beginning of the meeting. More that 65
people filled out the postcards and left them with the
organizers to be mailed to Congress. They call attention
to the injustice of the detainment of the Five Heroes and
demand visas for Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva. Many in
the young audience also signed up to get further involved
in work to free the Five.
The participation of Howard Zinn at a lecture addressing
the case of the Cuban Five provides proof that the media
silence surrounding the injustice of this case can be
broken in a different way. For the most part, the case has
yet to make it to the U.S. mainstream media but without
doubt, talks like the one at Northeastern University Law
School touched the heart and the conscience of many new
people. In learning about an historical event, people can
take action and become participants. As Professor Zinn
wrote at the end of his masterpiece A People’s History of
the United States, referring to other events in U.S.
history where people are challenging the present,
demanding a new future, “It is a race in which we can all
choose to be participants or just watch.”
The Northeastern student chapters of the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Lawyers Guild
helped publicize the event, as did Professor James Rowan,
the clinical director of the Northeastern Poverty Law
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