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
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
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.
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.
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
• Stop torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment in the 'war on terror'.
• Stop secret and incommunicado detention, and
• End the practice of sending people to countries
where they are at risk of torture.
• 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'.
• Bring to trial any individual against whom there is
evidence of having committed, ordered or authorized
• 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
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.