Today, we began our “Definite Detention” sit-out in Harvard Yard, in an effort to build momentum for the Congressional effort to repeal the habeas-stripping provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Apart from using striking symbols to attract attention and spark conversation, we talked to passers-by and got supporters to write individual letters to their representatives and senators.
We were joined by folks at Dartmouth, CUNY, NYU & the National Lawyers Guild. More schools are joining in the rest of the lobbying effort coordinated by the Center for Constitutional Rights. If you want to get involved, the main action center containing contacts, information, and suggestions is www.restorehabeascorpus.org
The official press release (PHOTOS BELOW):
UNIVERSITY STUDENTS ORGANIZE THREE DAY CALL FOR HABEAS CORPUS RESTORATION
Action Coordinated by the Center for Constitutional Rights on Behalf of Guantánamo Detainees
April 25, 2007, New York – Today, university students on campuses around the country began two days of action calling for the restoration of habeas corpus and fair hearings for the almost 400 detainees who still remain at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The actions, which all began at noon Eastern Standard Time, were organized by law students and coordinated by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents many of the detainees at Guantánamo and coordinates the work of nearly 500 pro bono attorneys.
Habeas corpus, or the Great Writ, is the legal procedure that keeps the government from holding prisoners indefinitely without showing cause and has been a pillar of Western legal systems since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. The passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 effectively stripped the Guantánamo detainees of their right to challenge their detention, despite two Supreme Court rulings that stated detainees do have the right to habeas corpus.
Said CCR attorney Emi MacLean, “It is a moral disgrace that we would deny the fundamental right to habeas corpus to anyone. We need to bring habeas corpus back – for the future of our country and for the people who have been detained without fair hearings and due process for over five years in Guantánamo.”
Participating students include representatives from the following schools: American University Dartmouth College, DePaul University, Harvard University, a coalition of students from New York City law schools including the City University of New York and New York University, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Virginia, and other schools around the country. The planned actions range from 48-hour sit-ins to call-in and letter writing campaigns to Congressional representatives. They come as Congress plans on considering several bills that would restore the fundamental right of habeas corpus to the Guantánamo detainees.
At Harvard Law School, students have organized a sit-out demonstration to be complemented by a call-in and letter writing campaign.
“We voice our rejection to an American law that allows for indefinite detention and torture,” said student organizer Deborah Popowski of Harvard Law School. “We cannot stay silent. History will judge those responsible for enacting and perpetuating the Military Commissions Act, and if we refuse to act now, we, too, are complicit.”
For more information, please visit www.restorehabeascorpus.org and www.ccr-ny.org.
NYU, CUNY, National Lawyers Guild