Target: US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Goal: Follow up on plans to resettle six Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Uruguay
Months ago, an arrangement was made to transfer six prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay after 12 years of imprisonment. Four Syrians, a Tunisian, and a Palestinian citizen were formally invited to resettle in Uruguay after Uruguayan officials assessed their suitability for the program. Despite being cleared for release years ago and having a safe home awaiting them, their release is still being held back by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has put off signing the agreement.
Among the prisoners up for release is Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian who is confined to a wheelchair due to the conditions and treatment he was subjected to in the offshore prison. He is severely depressed and has suffered ongoing mental health issues during his imprisonment, and is currently being force-fed while on hunger strike. Abdelhadi Faraj, another Syrian approved for the resettlement deal, has been subjected to extended periods of solitary confinement, brutal force-feeding procedures, as well as severe physical abuse at the hands of prison staff.
Uruguayan officials prepared a group home for the men so they would not be isolated after their imprisonment and would also have easy access to medical and mental health support. The men were also to receive financial aid, Spanish language lessons, as well as help getting jobs and reintegrating into society.
Through goodwill, the Uruguayan government has promised to make every effort to rehabilitate the longtime prisoners upon their resettlement. Through a lack of compassion, American officials have put off closing the deal, creating further unnecessary suffering. The government’s apparent disinterest in making meaningful progress with Guantanamo is an affront to American values and the Constitution of the United States. Your signature will demand that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stop stalling and immediately set the resettlement deal into motion.
Dear Mr. Hagel,
In March 2014, a deal was made to resettle six Guantanamo Bay prisoners to a group home in Uruguay where they would receive support and rehabilitation. The six prisoners chosen for the resettlement were all cleared for release many years ago, yet US officials continue to delay their release.
Many of the prisoners accepted for the deal have experienced severe mental and physical health issues due to long stays in solitary confinement, brutal beatings, poor conditions, and invasive force-feeding procedures. As the US government continues to hinder their release, they are left to experience further unnecessary suffering. I demand immediate action with the resettlement deal so that these six men can finally return to their lives and focus on rehabilitation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jordan P via Flickr