For more than fifty days, more than 100 of the prisoners have been on hunger strike. Many human rights activists are fasting in solidarity with them. Although starving themselves may be the only way the prisoners still have to express themselves, people outside Guantanamo's cells also have other means.
Office of the HAK Association, Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste
Telp. +670-331-3323 email: email@example.com
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500 USA
2 April 2013
Dear President Obama,
As you know, Timor-Leste’s people suffered long and struggled hard to restore our independence, and we appreciate the support that the United States Government has given to help rebuild our country after the Indonesian occupation. Because of our past, we understand the hardships of prolonged detention and the suffering of imprisonment.
Today we are appealing to the United States Government to immediately release the 166 men imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay detention center and to close the prison! It is illegal and immoral to keep people in prison without trial, and most of them have already been jailed for more than 11 years. The USA is responsible to compensate these men for the severe violations to their human rights.
More than four years ago, on your first day in office, you promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Yet it remains open. More than half of the men, 86, have been cleared for release but remain in prison. Faced with indefinite detention and no hope for justice, the men are desperate; more than 100 are on a hunger strike, some of them have not eaten for more than six weeks. They are risking their lives because they have given up hope that the United States will live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all, that the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” will ever be applied to them.
The United States spends $800,000 a year to keep each one of these men incarcerated in violation of its own and international law. Why doesn’t the United States use its resources to do justice? We remind you of your own words when you accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, “For all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter and can bend history in the direction of justice.”
We demand that you adhere to the rule of law. The United States loses its credibility in advocating for a democratic and free Timor-Leste, governed under the rule of law, when you yourselves flaunt the principles your country claims to represent. We demand that those responsible for these human rights abuses, including the torture, illegal and inhumane treatment of the prisoners be held accountable.
For Peace with Justice,
Signed by more than 30 Timor-Leste citizens and a few from other nations