Reaffirm and Extend the Geneva Conventions

  

Direct endorsements and parallel developments:

Listed below are individuals, organizations and communities which have endorsed one or more of the five action steps of the Citizens' Interfaith Coalition to Reaffirm and Extend the Geneva Conventions (which appear on our Welcome Page on this web site).
 
Also listed are actions taken and resolutions made by organizations that are in agreement with our concerns and/or one or another of our five action steps (which are not exclusive to us and are widely advocated in one form or another by human rights organizations around the world). Whenever we present our concerns and our action plan to organizations and communities, we invite and encourage them to both endorse our concerns and our site, and also to take all independent action on these pressing issues consistent with their own charters and values.  We also try to learn from all the good work of conscience that is being done on this issue by many individuals and groups.
 
If you or your congregation would like to endorse this site and the five-part program of action explained on our Welcome page, please contact the Editor by using our CONTACT page.  Thank you.

 


Direct Endorsement:

A Minute in Support of the Geneva Conventions
by Santa Barbara Friends Meeting, February 2008

Though the Supreme Court of the United States has
recently reaffirmed that the Geneva Conventions are
the law of the United States, government officials
and military leaders have acknowledged evasions
and violations of that law during the current wars
in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We are deeply concerned that our own currently-
employed weapons leave effects, such as land mines,
cluster bombs, and depleted uranium, which injure
and poison civilians and will continue to do so for
generations after these wars are over.

We are equally concerned that prisoners taken in war
have been denied prisoner-of-war status, and thus
have been tortured and humiliated in direct violation
of our treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
We strongly urge that any and all detainees be treated
in accordance with the Law of the United States as
affirmed by the Supreme Court.

After due consideration, we have resolved to support
all efforts to reaffirm and extend the Geneva Conventions,
to demand that they be honored and enforced as the
law of the land in any conflict in which the United
States is engaged, and to charge that our schools teach
their specific content to raise awareness of their
importance and to strengthen their being upheld by
future generations.

Signed by the Clerk of the Meeting, February 2008.
Santa Barbara Monthly Meeting
of the Religious Society of Friends

 


 

Direct Endorsement:

From: Michael Geis, MD, Psychiatrist, private practice,
Santa Barbara, CA. February, 2008.

I add my voice to those endorsing the Support Geneva Conventions program of action explained on the first page of this site. I strongly support you and your colleagues efforts to (1) clarify what the Geneva Conventions stand for and (2) oppose our country's current actions to override them and not support their enforcement. You have put together information for the public showing prisoners are still tortured and civilians often find themselves in harm's way as much as enemy combatants.

Thank you all for being the voices of compassion and reasoned judgment that you are.

 


Parallel Development:

Boise Valley Friends Meeting
Minute on Torture — adopted on November 4, 2007

For those persons unfamiliar with a Quaker minute, here is a brief explanation…

A minute is a statement of belief that our meeting records for others to see, both now and in the future- This is recorded in our minutes and held as a permanent record of our Meeting’s convictions. It will become part of the history of this Meeting. It can be used to stimulate thought and discussion among other Meetings and/or to inform various decision-makers beyond our Meeting of our deeply held beliefs.

We condemn the use of torture for any purpose, either to further the objectives of war or to prevent terrorism. Torture by any means, whether directly or by proxy is immoral. Torture destroys the humanity of the tortured, the torturer and those who have knowledge of it. We must defend the sanctity of life.

We believe that torture can never be justified as a means of control or extracting information from those deemed enemies. Torture dehumanizes its victims, obliterating the image of God in those who are tortured, and thus insulting the Creator of us all. Perpetrators, in their blindness to the humanity of those they torture, become inflictors of unbearable humiliation and pain. Thus torture, by its barbaric practices and disregard for the dignity of fellow human beings, steals the humanity of tortured and torturer alike.

Along with many others, we are shocked, revolted and saddened by our government’s use of torture in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, despite our constitutional and Supreme Court precedents that have historically denounced physical and psychological cruelty. We will not accept our government’s cynical use of language to redefine torture as enhanced interrogation or any other vain attempt to obscure the truth. We see these practices, as characteristic, not of this nation, but of those repressive and totalitarian regimes that we have historically criticized, judged deficient, and often sanctioned. The Geneva Convention, considered to be the standard of civilized conduct for nations who respect human dignity, has been denigrated, denied and ignored by leaders of our nation. The United States of America must abide by internationally accepted civilized norms and commonly accepted definitions of torture.

The Boise Valley Friends calls upon its members, as well as like-minded individuals and groups, to create a force of public opinion, which will oblige those responsible to dismantle everywhere the administrative apparatus that permits and encourages torture.


Parallel Development:

From: The Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends (August, 2006)
a minute [adopted resolution] opposing torture

Thirty years ago, the Friends World Committee for Consultation stated:

Both tortured and torturer are victims of the evil from which no
human being is immune. Friends, however, believe that the life
and power of God are greater than evil, and in that life and power
declare their opposition to all torture. The Society calls on all its
members, as well as those of all religious and other organizations,
to create a force of public opinion which will oblige those
responsible to dismantle everywhere the administrative apparatus
which permits or encourages torture, and to observe effectively
those international agreements under which its use is strictly
forbidden. (FWCC, 1976)

Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends was moved by the
March, 2006 Santa Monica Monthly Meeting minute that notes that "our Quaker
faith is based on the conviction that ’there is that of God in everyone.’ We are
therefore convinced that everyone is entitled to humane treatment and due
process of law. We utterly oppose any form of torture and illegal detention,
whether perpetrated by our government or by any other power or group."
We call on our elected representatives to hold the executive branch of the U.S.
government accountable for any actions that violate the 1949 Geneva
Conventions and their 1977 Protocols, or the 1987 United Nations Convention
Against Torture, or any other treaties binding upon the United States.
Pacific Yearly Meeting, joining with Humboldt Friends, San Jose, and Palo Alto
Meetings, supports the leadings of the six Humboldt Friends to travel with a
concern for the condition of all who are involved in the conflict at the
Guantanamo Bay Prison. Fred Adler, Andrea Armin-Hoiland, Carol
Cruickshank, Margaret Kelso, Richard Ricklefs, and Karin Salzmann are called
to journey to the prison to meet with and witness to both the prisoners and
prison personnel. The concern for the well-being of both prisoners and military
personnel at Guantanamo Bay is one shared by many Friends in our Yearly
Meeting .

Further, we ask that members, Monthly Meetings, and Worship Groups
familiarize themselves with the work of the Quaker Initiative to End Torture
(www.quit-torture-now.org), considering both minutes of support and
encouragement of participants in the next conference in June 2007 at Guilford
College, North Carolina.

As people of faith, we believe that the United States must set a high moral and
ethical standard in its treatment of its captives, whether foreign or domestic. As
William Penn wrote: "A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever
do evil, that good might come of it.”


Parallel Development:

Torture is a Moral Issue
Statement of Connecticut Faith Leaders Gathered at Hartford Seminary (Sept. 2006)

 

We are compelled to speak again because the just-announced Republican "compromise" threatens to compromise the rule of law and the laws of God. Torture is a moral and legal issue; it is also a profoundly religious issue, for it degrades the image of God in the tortured and the torturer alike. Our moral compass is swinging wildly. To tolerate, or worse decriminalize, torture jeopardizes the soul of our nation.

If we were not to raise our voices in outrage at this time, the very stones would cry out.

What is the basis of our concern?

§ We are concerned that the proposed legislation eviscerates the War Crimes Act of 1996. That act makes it a crime for any American to commit "grave violations" of the Geneva Conventions. But the "compromise" just announced amends the War Crimes Act to under cut that and to give the President unilateral authority–unchecked by Congress or the courts–to declare what is a violation of the War Crimes Act.

The President would then have the power to decriminalize the very prisoner abuse–at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, and secret prisons around the world–that rightly has caused American shame and international outrage. Under the legislation now proposed, even the list of permissible forms of interrogation will be kept secret. When reporters asked National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley whether waterboarding was permitted under the agreement, he refused even to answer the question.

§ We are concerned that the proposed law retroactively decriminalizes violations of the War Crimes Act. This sends a message that our country is offering one hundred percent tolerance for torture. We insist on zero tolerance for torture. But the bill extends tolerance to mercenaries and top government officials. This is highly self-serving. As former CIA general counsel, Jeffrey H. Smith, recently told the Washington Post regarding accusations of illegal activities by CIA officials, "The fault here is with more senior people who authorized interrogation techniques that amount to torture" and should now be liable, instead of "the officers who carried it out." This legislation would provide such senior officials a "get out of jail free" card.

§ We are concerned that this legislation removes the right of habeas corpus for those held as illegal combatants. This overturns the Supreme Court's Rasul decision and strips the courts of their ability to prevent torture and abuse. Habeas corpus cases have been the sole means for challenging the abuse of those held at Guantánamo.

§ We are concerned that the so-called compromise will allow the use of evidence coerced through cruel and abusive treatment. Experience has shown that such provisions are an inducement to torture.

§ We are concerned that the bill allows the President to declare any foreigner, anywhere, an "illegal enemy combatant" and then detain them forever without trial. Is this what the rule of law has come to for our country?

§ We are concerned that the bill, in spite of claims that it preserves the Geneva Conventions, in fact does nothing to prevent the reinterpretation of those Conventions at will. Thus, it will invite other countries to do the same–as past and present military leaders warned when they opposed the President's initial version of the bill.

Former Secretary of State and head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, recently warned that "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," and that "to redefine Common Article 3" of the Geneva Conventions "would add to those doubts." We are concerned that the proposed legislation, far from showing U.S. commitment to the Geneva Conventions, will only intensify those doubts.

§ We are concerned that this proposal is deliberately designed to undermine the efforts of the Supreme Court in the Rasul and Hamdan cases to assert the basic democratic Constitutional principle that the rule of law applies to the President and the executive branch.

§ We are concerned that President Bush may gut the remaining limitations in this act, just as he did to those in the previous McCain torture law, by issuing a Presidential signing statement.

Given that the President has said there are currently no prisoners in the special CIA interrogation program, we are uncertain of the urgency in passing this legislation right now. We fear that the urgency stems from the upcoming mid-term elections, with the possibility of the Democrats gaining control of the House or Senate and initiating war crimes hearings. This legislation seems not to be about protecting our military personnel or even US citizens; rather, it appears to be designed to protect the leaders at the top of the chain of command who have tolerated, promoted, and justified torture.

Our own sense of urgency arises from a desire to protect the soul and integrity of our nation. Will we be a nation that abides by our own Constitution and upholds international law? Will we be a nation that is "under God" with justice for all? Or will we become a nation that punishes those who follow the orders while exonerating those who give them?

The scriptures of many traditions offer a version of the "golden rule": "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This principle is the guide for the lives of both individuals and nations. The moral basis is clear. Yet there is also a simple utilitarian reason to observe this principle: abandon the rule of law and you yourself will be subject to the consequences.

As religious leaders, we call upon our Congressional delegation and all who would lead or represent us to stand firmly against this attempt to amend the law of the land, to set the United States apart from international law. The moral character and the security of our nation and its people are at stake.

Signatories

Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree, Conference Minister of Connecticut Conference of United Church of Christ

Bishop Andrew D. Smith, Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Rev Judy Allbee, Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of Connecticut

Rev. Dana Lindsley, Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Southern New England

Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Professor of Islamic Studies of Hartford Seminary and President of the Islamic Society of North America

Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman, Temple Beth Hillel, Wethersfield, Connecticut

Rabbi Donna Berman, Executive Director, Charter Oak Cultural Center

Rev. Allie Perry, Coordinating Committee of National Religious Campaign Against Torture

Badr Malik, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Connecticut Chapter

Rev. Kathleen McTigue, Unitarian Society of New Haven

Rev. Dennis Calhoun, Middlebury Congregational Church

John Humphries, Hartford Friends Meeting

Rev. Thomas O'Rourke, Roman Catholic Church of the Ascension

Rev. Susan Power-Trucksess, Presbyterian Minister

Carl S. Dudley, Faculty Emeritus, Hartford Seminary

Evolving News

Report Finds 'Indisputable' Proof That U.S. Tortured Detainees After 9/11  April, 2013.

LINK TV has a collection of news videos available online on the theme of accountability for torture, including a call from Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez for a Truth Commission on the subject..  (Dec. 2009)

  

Torturing Democracy:
 A two hour video documentary on the US abandonment of the Geneva Conventions, and practice of torture, in the 2001-2008 time period -- from the National Security Archive & shown on PBS. (May 2009)

  

The Trouble With Torture...  A position paper against torture that explores the danger of torture for the people who inflict it and the countries that allow it.
By Dennis Rivers.(June 2009)

  


  

Torture issue erupts in U.S. politics with the release of previously classified legal memos that allow brutal interrogation, including waterboarding. (May 2009)

New York Times archive of articles and documents on the topic of torture.

Timeline on the USA Torture Memos

Video discussion

  


  

Two terror suspects waterboarded a total of 266 times (NY Times)

  


  

The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means. April 30, 2009 article in the New York Review of Books by Mark Danner.

  


  

Report Outlines Medical Workers’ Role in Torture. April 6, 2009 article in NY Times.

  


  

Secret Red Cross report, now leaked, reveals US torture of detainees. What happens next?

(April 9, 2009)

  


  

Senate report on torture raises question of possible indictment of top officials in US government. (Dec. 2008)

N.Y. Times editorial

Video interview with Sen. Carl Levin on accountability of US officials for practice of torture

  


  

Guantánamo prosecutor resigns in protest over fairness of legal proceedings against prisoners (Oct. 2008)

  


  

U.S. Catholic Bishops release study guide on torture as a moral issue:
view web page
 
view PDF file

  


  

Physicians For Human Rights releases detailed report:

Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by the US.  (June, 2008)

  


  

A Torture Debate Among Healers:  Psychologists' professional association rocked with debate about psychologists participating in torture and harsh interrogation (April 2008)

  


  

Resolution Against Torture from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) / (Sept. 2006)  10MB PDF file.

  


  

Pastoral Letter Against Torture from ministers of the United Church of Christ (May 2008)

  


 Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

   

Work to build the kind of world in which you yourself would like to live.

Ram Dass

   

A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good might come of it.

William Penn

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