Today marks twelve years since the September 11 attacks, a crime against humanity. As we reflect on that day and all that has happened since, here are 12 images intended to inspire hope for a better future.
By Naureen Shah, Advocacy Adviser at Amnesty International USA
Today, filmmaker Brave New Foundation released this virtual legal debate on drone strikes, featuring Amnesty International USA and other leading human rights and civil rights organizations. Brave New Foundation’s full documentary on drone strikes will be released October 30. The virtual legal debate shows that too often, the U.S. government’s rhetoric has not matched the reality of U.S. policies and practices that treat the world as a global battlefield.
By Pratap Chatterjee is executive director of CorpWatch and a member of the AIUSA Board of Directors. He is author of Halliburton’s Army and Iraq, Inc.
Imagine if the government had the right to smash down the door to your house to find out what you are doing at any time of day and night. What would you think if they camped out in your living room and watched everything that you said and did? Now imagine that they had the ability to do that to everyone in the world without a warrant.
This is not a Hollywood script, but reality. Edward Snowden, a U.S. whistleblower currently seeking asylum in Russia, revealed to the world last month that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been vacuuming up the meta-data of our emails and phone calls for the last several years.
It has been a more than three years since the initial leaks of classified information were posted on Wikileaks. Bradley Manning has faced many issues during that three year span – not the least of which being the unnecessarily harsh conditions of his confinement when held in a brig in Quantico – and he will continue to face many more for the foreseeable future.
However, one issue has stood out above all others: being charged and possibly convicted for aiding the enemy, for releasing classified information to Wikileaks – information that Manning reasonably believed demonstrated human rights violations and potential war crimes by the U.S. government.
The charge seemed like a stretch from the get-go. But after hearing the evidence, the prosecution presented to support such a charge, it became painfully obvious that the government was trying to make an example of Bradley Manning: regardless of your motives, if you leak government information you will pay with your life, literally.
By Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International
The decision by the U.S. military judge not to drop the charge accusing Private Bradley Manning of “aiding the enemy” is a travesty of justice. If he is found guilty of the charge, he faces a possible life sentence in military custody with no chance of parole.
What’s surprising is that the prosecutors in this case, who have a duty to act in the interest of justice, have pushed a theory that making information available on the internet – whether through Wikileaks, in a personal blog posting, or on the website of The New York Times – can amount to “aiding the enemy.”
By Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy, Amnesty International
Let’s face it: the reason Edward Snowden is stuck in limbo in Moscow is because he has revealed the unlawful behavior of the U.S. and other governments. They are trying to turn the tables and say he is the criminal when in fact it is the governments’ behavior that is unlawful.
“We think that Snowden will be in danger if he is given over to the authorities of the United States,” Amnesty International representative Sergei Nikitin said after he met with Snowden at the Moscow airport.
Indeed, the U.S. government is not only pursuing him, wanting to arrest him and charge him in the United States but they’re also obstructing his ability to claim asylum elsewhere. The Russian president has said if Snowden stays in Russia he has to shut up – but you cannot give somebody asylum and say that it is conditional on your relinquishing your right.
So what we need to do is keep heavy pressure on the U.S. government and others who are actively obstructing his right to seek asylum. We need to keep bringing the focus back to the unlawful activity of the U.S. government and other governments that he revealed.
By Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International
The U.S. authorities’ relentless campaign to hunt down and block whistleblower Edward Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum is a gross violation of his human rights. It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded.
The U.S. attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are all the more deplorable when you consider the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the U.S.
No country can return a person to another country where there is a serious risk of ill-treatment. We know that others who have been prosecuted for similar acts have been held in conditions that not only Amnesty International, but UN officials considered cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law.
On June 27, 2013, the full Senate passed the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744). When initially introduced in April, I was cautiously optimistic that this piece of legislation would finally begin to address many of the human rights violations in the immigration enforcement, detention and deportation process which are documented in Amnesty International reports such as Jailed Without Justice: Immigration detention in the USA and In Hostile Terrain: Human rights violations in immigration enforcement in the U.S. Southwest.
S. 744 as introduced by the “Gang of Eight” had its problems – such as bolstering flawed immigration enforcement, detention and deportation programs – but there were also many provisions which took concrete steps towards addressing human rights violations.
Angry. That’s how I felt when President Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, despite containing terrible provisions that run afoul of human rights standards and have been used to justify indefinite detention at Guantanamo.
Well, the NDAA is back in the House of Representatives this week and the bad Guantanamo provisions are in it again. Will you join me in demanding that Congress support the human rights of all people?
On May 23, 2013, President Obama stated that history will cast a harsh judgment on the legacy of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center and those who fail to end it. Unfortunately, the current reality is that dozens of men are detained in Guantanamo despite being cleared for transfer. Here are just a few:
Yusef Abbas, Hajiakbar Abdulghupur, and Saidullah Khalik – Detained in Guantanamo for 10 years and 11 months. The three men are ethnic Uyghurs from China. They were arrested in Pakistan in late 2001. After they were given over to U.S. forces, they were transferred to Guantanamo in 2002. In 2008, they, along with 14 other Uyghurs, successfully filed writs of Habeas Corpus. While all the other Uyghur held at Guantanamo have been transferred, these three remain detained.
Shaker Aamer - Detained for 11 years and 4 months. Originally from Saudi Arabia, he was arrested in Afghanistan, where he was living with his family, in 2001. He was transferred to Guantanamo in February, 2002. Under President Bush he was cleared for transfer. Despite the U.K. government’s requests he be transferred to the U.K., Shaker Aamer remains in Guantanamo.