2
Feb
2005

Your help is needed to end torture

You are urgently needed to help launch a massive national mobilization against the use of torture by U.S. military personnel and federal officers. Recent revelations of abuse of detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo are simply shocking.

It violates bedrock American values.

It violates the Geneva Convention.

It is destroying U.S. credibility in the world.

Amnesty International is launching one of the most ambitious, most important and costliest mass mobilizations in our history. As a participant in our online action center, you have already shown your commitment. Now we need you to take the next step - by becoming a full-fledged member of Amnesty International USA.

You can join right now using our secure Web page:
//takeaction.amnestyusa.org/ctt.asp?u=677776&l=11817

Last week we sent you an action alert urging you to demand action from the White House on allegations of torture by U.S. troops and federal officers. And yet, in his Inaugural address, President Bush said he wants America to be a beacon of freedom to the world.

But how can we be an example if we flout human rights and basic decency? Instead of upholding basic rights, the Administration engages in legal gamesmanship -- pressing on with its sweeping definitions of "enemy combatant" while more than 500 detainees languish in legal limbo. Earlier this week in fact, a federal judge in Washington declared the secret military tribunals in Guantanamo to be illegal. An appeal to the Supreme Court is certain, but the victory is at least a moral one.

And new, ever more disturbing news of gross mistreatment is coming from Guantanamo every day. Witnesses - among them federal officers - report strangulations, beatings, placement of lit cigarettes into detainees' ear canals, and sleep deprivation.

Eyewitness reports from FBI agents read like the stuff of horror films. One agent described coming into an "unventilated room probably well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night."

These are not the acts of a few bad apples, as the Administration claims. Evidence is mounting that officials at the highest level of the U.S. government approved these brutal interrogation techniques.

Under the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, torture is NEVER permissible. We need to send the Administration an unmistakable message - that Americans did not give the government a mandate last November to commit acts of torture and engage in acts of barbarism. Nobody voted for that.

Amnesty USA is determined to mobilize a vocal, diverse and massive constituency throughout this country that will demand an end to the use of torture at all levels of government in the United States.

Thanks to years of grassroots activism, Amnesty has a corps of volunteers ready to carry out this urgently needed mobilization. And it's the most motivated and inspired citizen force you could hope to find.

But mobilizing people also takes money. And that's why I'm asking you for your help - to become a dues-paying Amnesty member. Please join now using our secure Web page.

Here are the main points for our nationwide mobilization:


-- Teach-Ins: Amnesty activists will organize a large number of teach-ins in cities and towns across the country that will reach hundreds of people directly at each event.

-- Community Fora: In addition, Amnesty will organize five large-scale public forums in critical media markets to raise awareness of the United States' record, role and responsibility regarding torture both at home and abroad.

-- Grassroots Demonstrations: Amnesty will also organize grassroots demonstrations on June 26 - International Day in Support of Torture Victims and Survivors.

-- Online Mobilizing: In order to involve as many concerned Americans as possible we will develop a special page on our web site, //www.amnestyusa.org, to serve as a clearinghouse for information, resources and actions opposing torture.

This action plan for our national mobilization to end torture is both enormously ambitious and expensive. It is why we are reaching out for your support.

If we're to rescue our country from the taint of being branded a practitioner of torture, then we must confront the Bush Administration head-on with this issue. With your help, I believe justice will prevail.

By joining online, your dues will support our mobilization plans almost overnight: //takeaction.amnestyusa.org/ctt.asp?u=677776&l=11817

Thanks for all your help.

Sincerely

Bill Schulz

P.S. I also hope that over the course of the mobilization you will consider participating either by taking action from your home or by taking part in an event in your community. We will be communicating these opportunities to the larger Amnesty community in the weeks ahead.
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