Northampton Passes Resolution Condemning GuantÃ¡namo Bay
June 27 — The City of Northampton went on record to oppose the continued operation of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. In the final reading of the Resolution Calling for Justice in Guantanamo Bay, the City Council voted 7-1 that it opposes the continued existence of the Guantanamo Bay detention center and the violation of rule of law that it represents, and calls for all its prisoners to be charged or released.
The resolution was introduced by Councilor Owen Freeman-Daniels, and in part written by the American Friends Service Committee and local activist Nancy Talanian, a founder of the No More Gitmos group.
Originally introduced on Thursday, June 20, the resolution was spoken of by Northampton resident Paki Wieland. On Tuesday, Ms. Wieland was arrested in Washington D.C. at a broad act of civil disobedience protesting the continued existence of the prison. Ms. Wieland concurred with City Councilor President Bill Dwight’s description of the facility as an obscenity that stains the character of the United States.
Passed by the Northampton City Council on June 27, 2013:
RESOLUTION CALLING FOR JUSTICE IN GUANTÃNAMO BAY
WHEREAS the practice of holding people in the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base detention center (hereafter referred to as Guantanamo Bay detention center represents the continuation of a repudiated foreign policy and stain upon the character of the United States; and
WHEREAS over 100 of the 166 remaining prisoners at the GuantÃ¡namo Bay detention center have been on hunger strike for over 98 days to protest the lack of basic human and legal rights as outlined by the U.S. Constitution and international law; and
WHEREAS 86 prisoners have been cleared for release since 2010 by an inter-agency task force[i], yet continue to be detained; and
WHEREAS it is wrong for any country, for any reason, to detain someone for over 11 years and not charge him with any crime; and[ii]
WHEREAS the United Nations have declared that the continued imprisonment of the Guantanamo Bay detention center prisoners is a flagrant violation of international human rights law and in itself constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment[iii]; and
WHEREAS the United Nations condemned the coercive practice of forced feedings of hunger striking prisoners of The Guantanamo Bay detention center as a form of torture and a violation of medical ethics[iv]; and
WHEREAS residents of Northampton have long struggled to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, from the activism of No More Guantanamos to hunger striking residents to acts of civil disobedience to a Northampton Proclamation denouncing the torturous conditions of Guantanamo on June 22, 2011[v]; and
WHEREAS other municipalities, from the nearby Town of Amherst to the City of Berkeley, have acted forthrightly to address the injustices at Gunatanamo Bay by offering to accepted cleared prisoners in their communities; and
WHEREAS President Obama pledged to close the prison over 5 years ago, and recently stated that the prison is not necessary to keep America safe. It’s expensive, it’s inefficient, it hurts us in terms of international standing, it lessens cooperation with our allies in counter terrorism efforts.[vi]; then
BE IT RESOLVED that the Northampton City Council calls upon our federal representative and senators to advocate and act forthrightly to see justice done in Guantanamo Bay; and
BE IT RESOLVED we call upon President Obama to maintain his pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Northampton opposes the continued existence of the Guantanamo Bay detention center and the violation of rule of law that it represents, and calls for all its prisoners to be charged or released.
And BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this Resolution be sent to the President and Attorney General of the United States, the United States Senators for Massachusetts, and the United States Representative for Massachusetts’ Second District.
[i] Guantanamo Review Task Force , Final Report, January 22, 2010 http://www.justice.gov/ag/guantanamo-review-final review.pdf
[ii] Gitmo is Killing Me, New York Times, April 14, 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/opinion/hunger-striking-at-guantanamo-bay.html
[iii] IACHR, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Rapporteur on Torture, UN Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, and UN Rapporteur on Health reiterate need to end the indefinite detention of individuals at Guantanamo Naval Base in light of current human rights crisis, Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, United Nations, May 1, 2013, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13278&LangID=E
[v] Proclamation of the City of Northampton, United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 26, 2011 http://www.nogitmos.org/northamptonmayorissuesproclamationjune262011
[vi] President Obama: Gitmo should be closed, CNN, April 30, 2013 http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/30/president-obama-i-still-believe-gitmo-should-be-closed/?iref=allsearch