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28Say No to Torture

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  • Sandra Strauss
    Sep 15, 2006
      PA Faith in Public Life Network

      Contact Our Congressional Delegation to Say No to Torture

      This alert is also available at http://www.pachurches.org/What/Advocacy/Alerts/Alerts.htm (click on “Say No to Torture” under “Human Rights”)

       

      Background (click here or scroll down)

      Suggested Actions

      ·         Contact Senators Santorum and Specter (most important) and your representative AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to urge them to OPPOSE the President’s proposed “Military Commissions Act of 2006,” legislation that would put this country in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

      ·         Contact the White House to voice your opposition to the President’s proposal.

      ·         Join others in signing on to the “Torture is a Moral Issue” statement prepared by the National Religious Coalition Against Torture (http://www.nrcat.org/)

      Contact information for Pennsylvania senators:

      Rick Santorum          551 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Washington , DC 20510

      (202) 224-6324; Fax (717) 231-7542

      e-mail:

      http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactInformation.ContactForm&CFID=7784415&CFTOKEN=86616545

      Web: www.santorum.senate.gov

      Arlen Specter            711 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20510

      (202) 224-4254; Fax (202) 228-1229

      e-mail: http://specter.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactInfo.Home

      Web: www.specter.senate.gov

      Contact information for the White House:

      The White House

      1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

      Washington, DC 20500

      Comments:           (2020 456-1111

      Switchboard:         (202) 456-1414

      FAX:                      (202) 456-2461

      TTY/TDD:                    Comments:           (202) 456-6213

      General e-mail:                 comments@...

      President’s e-mail:            president@...

      Click here or go to http://www.pachurches.org/What/Advocacy/Resources/Public Officials Links.doc for information on how to contact your representative.

      If you do not know the name of your representative, go to Write Your Representative - Contact your Congressperson in the U.S. House of Representatives. (http://www.house.gov/writerep/)

       


      Suggested Message

      Identify yourself as a person of faith (you may wish to identify your faith tradition).

      Urge Senators Santorum and Specter and your representative to oppose the President’s proposed “Military Commissions Act of 2006,” legislation that would put this country in violation of the Geneva Conventions.  Tell them you are concerned that the President’s proposal would weaken the Common Article 3 standards in our U.S. statutes. Common Article 3 is a centerpiece of U.S. commitment to fairness and justice, and has made the U.S. the world leader in setting standards for treatment of detainees. Erosion of Common Article 3 would make our own soldiers and citizens more susceptible to retaliatory and punitive treatment.  It also has the potential to create conditions that make martyrs of the tortured and abused, leading to retaliatory actions that threaten the safety and security of our nation.

       

      Background

      From a letter from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) to all senators:

      The U.S. commitment to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is a centerpiece of our commitment to fairness and justice and has, but for recent events, helped to make the U.S. a world leader in setting standards for treatment of detainees. Americans should be proud and supportive of the Geneva Conventions—we have worked hard to ensure that they reflect our moral commitments. We played a major role in negotiating the 1977 Additional Protocols to update the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

      The President’s proposed “Military Commissions Act of 2006”…would put this country in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The President’s proposal would weaken the Common Article 3 standards in our U.S. statutes. Common Article 3 is a centerpiece of U.S. commitment to fairness and justice, and has made the U.S. the world leader in setting standards for treatment of detainees. As a result, our soldiers and citizens abroad are safer from retaliatory and punitive treatment; we defeat those who would make martyrs of the tortured and the abused; and our nation is safer and more secure.

      The president’s proposed “Military Commissions Act of 2006”…would significantly weaken Common Article 3 standards from the War Crimes Act. It would retroactively immunize U.S. personnel and policy makers who have conducted abusive interrogations. It would also deny basic protections of fairness and justice common to the jurisprudence of all modern nations.

      A delegation of senior religious leaders representing NRCAT are requesting meetings as soon as possible with the president, senators, and representatives to discuss this issue.  The delegation would include Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA); Rabbi Jerome Epstein, Executive Vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; and Dr. Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America.

      In April 2006, the Governing Board of the Council joined with numerous national and state religious organizations to endorse “Torture is a Moral Issue,” a statement prepared by the newly formed NRCAT at its founding conference at Princeton Theological Seminary in January 2006.  “Torture is a Moral Issue” calls on Congress and the President to remove any ambiguities that affect how our country addresses incidences of torture and inhumane treatment and how evidence obtained by torture can be used in a court of law.  It also calls for an independent investigation of reported severe human rights abuses at U.S. installations like Guantanamo , Abu Ghraib, and Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan .

       Why This Issue is Important to the Pennsylvania Council of Churches

      In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “silence is betrayal…We are called upon to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls ‘enemy…’”  According to Bishop A. Donald Main, President of the Council, “Biblical witness affirms over and over that those who are committed to peace need to work for justice for all of God’s people.  We believe that God calls us, as leaders in the faith community, to work to heal the brokenness that exists in our relationships with other nations and with our brothers and sisters around the world.”

      Perhaps the most important principle to remember is that the Bible affirms that every person is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.  The Council’s Principles for Public Advocacy (http://www.pachurches.org/What/Advocacy/Policies/Policies.htm; click on link for “Principles”) notes:

      Peace and reconciliation between persons and within the systems of society are both matters of faith and the result of human beings’ partnership with God in God’s work throughout the world. Scripture gives a vision of a world at peace in numerous places; brokenness and sinfulness are not the final words for humankind. God is constantly at work healing the brokenness that exists in individual lives, in families, communities, congregations, political processes and systems and in the environment around us.

      Peacemaking is the appropriate human response to the divine gift of peace, wholeness and reconciliation.  God calls us to reconciliation: between individuals, within families and communities, and among nations.  When faced with conflict and brokenness, our first response is to seek a peaceful solution that ensures the health and safety of all involved.

      There will never be peace on earth as long as there is injustice. Biblical witness affirms over and over that those who are committed to peace need to work for justice for all of God’s people. Peace and justice are integral to faithfulness.

       

      For More Information…

      ·         National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) (http://www.nrcat.org/)

      ·         Military Commissions Act of 2006 (http://www.law.georgetown.edu/faculty/nkk/documents/Military Commissions.pdf)

      ·         Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/0/e160550475c4b133c12563cd0051aa66?OpenDocument)

      ·         War Crimes Act of 1996 (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00002441----000-.html)

      ·         Amnesty International (http://web.amnesty.org/pages/stoptorture-index-eng)

      ·         Amnesty International USA (http://www.amnestyusa.org/stoptorture/index.do)

      ·         Human Rights Watch (http://hrw.org/campaigns/torture.htm)

      ·         American Civil Liberties Union (http://www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/index.html)

      ·         U.N. Convention Against Torture (http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_cat39.htm)