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Home > Human Rights & Humanitarian Law > Armed Conflict & the Law > What is Terrorism? - Law & PractiseTerrorism: United States Law & Practise > Amnesty Launches Campaign Against Torture by United States - "Torture is Terror"

Terrorism: United States Law & Practise  

CONTENTS
OF THIS SECTION

10/06/09

Dear President Bush

Martin Mubanga, a UK national who was held at Guantanamo Bay, has described his interrogators using a mop to cover him in his own waste and urine. This is just one of many testimonies emerging from US detention centres alleging the use of torture and ill-treatment.When governments use torture they are resorting to the tactics of terror and relying on fear to achieve their aims. Both torture and terrorism negate the very basis of human dignity and decency. Both should be rejected absolutely, with no exceptions. I am therefore calling on you to:

STOP the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman
and degrading treatment in the "war on terror".
INVESTIGATE alleged abuses.
PROSECUTE any guilty parties.
DISCLOSE the location of secret detention centres and the names of those held.

The US is one of the world's most powerful and influential nations. It should not be a threat to human rights - it should be their champion.

Yours sincerely

"My body hair was shaved including my pubic hair.... I  was stripped naked, given a full body search-and pictures were taken of me naked."  Statement of former detainee held in Kandahar and Guantanamo Bay
"I was questioned for four weeks in a windowless room by plain-clothed U.S. agents. I didn't know if it was day or night. They said that they could make me disappear"  Mohammed, 'a former detainee allegedly held in a facility jointly run by the Pakistan intelligence services and the CIA
"Americans hit me and beat me up so badly. I believe I.am sexually dysfuntional...I point to where the pain is... I think they take it as a joke and they laugh." Guantanamo detainee quoted in tribunal transcripts

Amnesty Launches Campaign
Against Torture by United States - 'Torture is Terror'

November 2006

"The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and WE ARE LEADING  THIS FIGHT BY EXAMPLE" President George W. Bush, 26 June 2003"

"...The US Administration insists it  does not condone or use torture  but the facts  suggest the opposite.. It is disturbing to read about Mohammed C having his arms burned with cigarettes. It is shocking to find that at the time of this ordeal, Mohammed was just 14 years old...

Sean Baker was a US military guard when, during a training exercise, he volunteered to wear an jumpsuit and pretend to be an uncooperative detainee. His fellow guards did not know who he was. They beat and choked him so badly that he has suffered permanent brain injury. When a nation begins to condone torture, it sends out a message to its own people that such inhuman conduct is now acceptable. Such conduct then starts to become the norm. When that nation is as powerful as the USA, the message it sends goes out to the whole world. It is a message of reassurance and encouragement to those states where torture and ill-treatment are already rife -such as Algeria, Yemen and Syria.It is a message that could have terrible and terrifying repercussions for us all..."


Dear Supporter

In May this year a delegation of senior American officials stood before the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva and rejected allegations that the US has tortured people as part of its so called 'war on terror'. In fact, ever since President Bush declared the 'war on terror', the US administration has continually stated that it opposes torture and does not approve its use under any circumstances. But during this time, hundreds of credible and corroborating testimonies have emerged from Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan. Iraq and secret detention sites around the world that tell a very different and desperately alarming story.

The small booklet I've sent with this letter records just a few of these testimonies.

I'm afraid at times it makes for disturbing and shocking reading. It is disturbing, for example, to read of an interrogator using a mop to 'paint' a man from head to toe in his own urine. it is shocking to find the interrogator is an American soldier. It is disturbing to read about Mohammed C having his arms burned with cigarettes. It is shocking to find that at the time of this ordeal, Mohammed was just 14 years old.

As an Amnesty International supporter, you'll know that we're always rigorous in our research of any human rights abuses - wherever they occur. And we only work on issues when we are convinced there is a genuine case to be answered. When it comes to the US administration's use of torture and ill-treatment, we believe there is a very serious case to be answered indeed.

I want to be very clear exactly where Amnesty stands on this issue. Terrorism by armed groups is inexcusable and unacceptable. Amnesty completely and unequivocally condemns terrorist actions - including the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001 and the London bombings in 2005 - and we are working to challenge armed groups over their violations of human rights. At the same time we must all resist claims by governments that terror can be fought with torture. Such claims are misleading, dangerous and wrong. You cannot extinguish a fire with petrol.

Of course there are a great many countries around the world that carry out torture and ill-treatment apart from the USA. But as a leading player on the world stage. America has a critical role to play. Its conduct influences governments everywhere. When it ignores the absolute prohibition on torture it encourages other states to do the same and it undermines its own moral authority to champion human rights elsewhere in the world.

Now more than ever we need powerful and influential countries like the US to behave with respect for human rights.

That's why we've launched a major and urgent campaign to stop torture and ill-treatment in the 'war on terror'. And your support is desperately needed.

We are calling on the US administration to:

STOP torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the 'war on terror'.

INVESTIGATE alleged abuses.

PROSECUTE any guilty parties.

CLOSE the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.

DISCLOSE the location of secret detention centres and the names of those held.

Closing Guantanamo Bay would be an important step, but only part of the solution. It is imperative that the US also discloses the whereabouts of all its detention centres. So long as any detention centre remains secret, there is a danger the Guantanamo detainees could simply disappear altogether.

I believe the success of our efforts is of fundamental importance to the future of human rights. The stakes are high. But, with your support, so are our chances of success.

It is imperative that we maintain the pressure on the US government at this critical time. To do that, we desperately need your support.

Firstly do read the enclosed booklet and consider the evidence for yourself. Then. I urge you please to complete and return the donation form attached to this letter. We are doing everything we can to persuade the Bush administration to respect human rights. But every lobbying meeting, every piece of evidence gathered, every public action taken, every report published it all costs money. Which is why any donation you can afford today really is critical to supporting our efforts.

You can also help by appealing directly to the US government, stating your opposition to torture under any circumstances. All you have to do is sign the action card I've sent you and make sure you return it with your donation. We'll be collecting cards from thousands of other human rights supporters like you and passing them straight on to the White House.

Please let the Bush administration know that you oppose torture and ill-treatment under any circumstances. That the unlawful suffering of thousands of people held in camps around the world must end. And that the USA should be championing human rights, not dismantling the very framework on which they are built.

If you believe that torture is terror, please support our campaign by making a donation today. Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Kate Allen Director

P.S. In just the last few weeks the US Senate has passed a new piece of legislation that further erodes key human rights. The Military Commissions Act strips Guantanamo detainees of their right to challenge their detention; allows the government to arrest someone as an 'unlawful enemy combatant' for an act as minor as writing a cheque; and provides immunity for those who may have been involved in acts and policies of torture. Your support now is more important than ever.

www.amnesty.org.uk
Amnesty International UK Section Charitable Trust
The Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New InnYard
London, EC2A 3EA
 

With your support we will be calling on the US administration to:

STOP!

Stop torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in the 'war on terror'.

Stop secret and incommunicado detention, and 'disappearance'.

End the practice of sending people to countries where they are at risk of torture.

INVESTIGATE!

Set up an independent commission of inquiry to investigate all relevant US detention and interrogation policies and practices in the `war on terror'.

Appoint an independent Special Counsel to carry out a criminal investigation into the conduct of any official against whom there is evidence of involvement in crimes in the 'war on terror'.

PROSECUTE!

Bring to trial any individual against whom there is evidence of having committed, ordered or authorized torture.

Investigate and prosecute all alleged perpetrators of torture, wherever the incidents have occurred.

CLOSE AND DISCLOSE!

Close Guantanamo Bay: shut down the detention
camp, charge the detainees or release them.

Disclose the location of secret detention
centres and the names of those held.

Open all places of detention to international and independent scrutiny.

The US is one of the world's most powerful and influential nations. IT SHOULD NOT BE A THREAT TO HUMAN RIGHTS IT SHOULD BE THEIR CHAMPION.


Booklet

Authenticate and corroborate

The USA is one of the most powerful countries in the world. A signatory to both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention against Torture, it proudly proclaims its commitment to protecting human rights. So can it really be torturing people?

Since declaring the "war on terror" the USA has maintained it does not use or condone torture. At the same time it has hotly disputed the definition of the word torture; it has created the term "enemy combatant" to describe anyone it wants to detain -even though they may not have taken part in any conflict - and denied them the protection of the Geneva Convention; it has created detention centres in Guantanamo Bay and other secret locations around the world where no rule of law is applied; it has authorised the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" including sleep and sensory deprivation, hooding, 20-hour interrogations and forced nudity; and it has detained approximately 70,000 people of whom more than 10,000 currently remain "disappeared".

In these and many other ways, the USA has created an environment that is conducive to torture. Testimonies are now emerging from around the world claiming that within this environment, torture - along with other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment - is now actually taking place. And on a significant scale.

These testimonies are so consistent, so substantive and so widespread that we simply cannot ignore them.


Isolate and disorientate

Ahmad Muhammad Hussein al-Badrani, a freelance television journalist working for Reuters in Falluja, was held by US forces in Iraq for three days in January 2004.

"They had music played very loud on huge speakers and they made us dance. It was played straight into our ears. There was abuse throughout the night. We were beaten on the ground. They placed tape on our mouths and bags on our heads."

Hooding prisoners, keeping them in prolonged isolation, exposing them to extremes of heat and cold, forcing them to stand motionless or in stressful positions for hours on end, keeping them in constant darkness, or constant light, depriving them of sleep, the use of dogs and mock executions, racial and religious insults, prolonged handcuffing, simulated drowning - all these techniques and more have been widely recounted.

Although they may not leave scars, they are banned by law and can have devastating consequences for the victims.

But they also have a consequence for the perpetrators, who in time become hardened to the abuse and ready to go a step further. The slap that doesn't make the prisoner talk becomes a beating.

If the beating doesn't work then more pain has to be inflicted.

Violate and mutilate

Official records now include hundreds of testimonies of beatings and other forms of torture by US military and security personnel.

One man alleges that he was made to walk barefoot on barbed wire. Witnesses have described how an 18 year old died in US custody after being subjected to electric shocks, beatings and immersion in water. A boy of 14

says he was hung by the wrists, beaten and burned with cigarettes.

The accounts go on and on. And not only on the part of the victims.

One US lawyer who met Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo wrote in his notes: "All indicated that they had been horribly treated, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan... The stories they told were remarkably similar - terrible beatings, hung from wrists and beaten ...sexual abuse (rectal intrusion), terrible uncomfortable positions for hours. All confirmed that this treatment was by Americans... Several mentioned the use of electric shocks - like ping pong paddles put under arms - some had this done; many saw it done."

US army sergeant Eric Saar was on duty in Guantanamo in late 2002. He has since said "we're making a drastic mistake here. What I saw as a whole was inconsistent with who we are and the values we represent as a nation".

All the evidence suggests that the USA's descent into torture has gathered a terrifying momentum.

Investigate and terminate

Sean Baker was a US military guard when, during a training exercise, he volunteered to wear an jumpsuit and pretend to be an uncooperative detainee. His fellow guards did not know who he was. They beat and choked him so badly that he has suffered permanent brain injury.

When a nation begins to condone torture, it sends out a message to its own people that such inhuman conduct is now acceptable. Such conduct then starts to become the norm.

When that nation is as powerful as the USA, the message it sends goes out to the whole world. It is a message of reassurance and encouragement to those states where torture and ill-treatment are already rife -such as Algeria, Yemen and Syria.

It is a message that could have terrible and terrifying repercussions for us all.

And ultimately, what is gained through the use of torture? As one former CIA agent has said, "you can make anyone say anything, but you can't have any confidence in what that person says".

Torture and ill-treatment are always wrong. Governments around the world agreed and wrote this into law many years ago. And whatever new threats may face home security in the US and elsewhere, that same principle is just as true today.

Please support Amnesty's campaign to stop the use of torture in the "war on terror". The future depends on it.  Torture or other ill treatment not only harms the victim, it brutalizes the perpetrator and the societies that allow it to happen.

IT IS CRUEL.
IT IS INHUMAN.
IT DEGRADES
US ALL.

 

 

 

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