Open letter to Amnesty International

Eli Stephens elishastephens at
Thu Jul 31 08:08:40 MDT 2003

It's interesting to compare Amnesty's treatment of Cuba and the US. If you
go to their website (, you will find DISCUSSIONS fo
the situation in Cuba and the US detention of prisoners in Guantanamo. The
discussions of the Guantanamo situation is reasonable honest. But the
DEMANDS made in the two situations (in their suggested action or letter
writing section) are quite different.

Here's what they urge people to demand of Cuba:

Amnesty International once again urges the Cuban authorities
- to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience,
imprisoned solely for having peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of
expression, association and assembly.
- to ensure that, pending their release, the 75 prisoners of conscience
arrested in March have access to appropriate medical care and that their
conditions of detention meet international standards.
- to put an immediate end to all forms of harassment and intimidation
directed against dissidents who are solely attempting to legitimately
exercise fundamental human rights.
-  to reverse the regressive decision to resume executions, and to publicly
commit itself to respecting the de facto moratorium in place prior to the
April executions.

And here's part of their suggested letter to the US authorities:

I urge that the Military Order be repealed, and ask that none of the six
identified detainees or any others be referred for trial before a military
commission. If the six are to be charged, they should be charged with
recognizably criminal offences, and brought to trial in proceedings which
fully meet international standards for fair trial, including the right to
appeal, or else released.  I am aware that, according to recent agreements,
British nationals Moazzam Begg and Feroz Abbasi and Australian national,
David Hicks will not face the death penalty and urge that the death penalty
is not imposed in any of the other cases.

Note there is no demand for the US to obey international law and hold a
hearing to determine whether the prisoners are "prisoners of war", no demand
to either charge the prisoners with a crime or release them, no demand to
allow them to see lawyers, no demand for more humane conditions, no demand
that they have access to appropriate medical care as in the case of the
Cuban 75, etc. etc. While in Cuba, the death penalty is "regressive," no
such adjective is found when discussing US actions, where Amnesty merely
"urges that the death penalty not be imposed." Of course not to mention no
mention of the competely illegal nature of the US invasion of Afghanistan
and the seizing of people (in some cases from other countries) and bringing
them to a place of "extraterritorial (il)legality" rather than to the US,

The difference in demands is striking, to say the least.

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