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Protect Universal Human Rights: Close Gitmo

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December 8, 2008

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR, which serves as the founding document of the modern human rights system outlines the basic rights and protections that are to be enjoyed by all people and arguably carries a moral force, in addition to an ideological and political one.

Unfortunately, the anniversary of the Declaration comes at a time when America’s historical role as a leader in the human rights movement and its moral standing in the world is severely damaged. On January 11th, one month after the world celebrates the UDHR, America will mark another solemn anniversary – seven years since the first detainees were brought to the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Gitmo has become a symbol for the Bush administration’s worst excesses – including indefinite detention, torture, and unconstitutional military commissions.

Juxtaposed against the UDHR, particularly Articles 5 and 9 which clearly state…

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

… U.S. policies and practices have illustrated a blatant disregard for international law and human rights.

We now stand at a pivotal turning point. With new leadership, the United States has the potential to regain its moral standing in the world.

As part of our efforts, we are calling on President-elect Obama to close the Guantánamo prison and end the military commissions on day one of his presidency. We are collaborating on videos with Brave New Foundation containing direct testimony from those with firsthand knowledge of the system of injustice that thrives at Gitmo.

Join our efforts to urge President-elect Obama to give us back the America we believe in.

Celebrate the UDHR at 60 with the ACLU. Visit and sign the ACLU’s petition calling on the government and newly elected president to recommit to the UDHR. On December 10, the ACLU’s efforts will culminate in the online launch of an exclusive publication about the importance of the UDHR.