A crucial moment for human rights

Press release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
Thursday 6 December 2007

As a fresh legal battle begins in the US Supreme Court over the right to a fair trial of the 300 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, a former US army Muslim Chaplain will be speaking in Glasgow about his own experiences at the notorious prison camp. Amnesty International UK Guantanamo campaigner Sara Mac Neice has called the Supreme Court case - which began yesterday- "a crucial moment for human rights and the rule of law."

James "Yusuf" Yee served as a US Army Muslim Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay. He was arrested and imprisoned in a Naval brig for 76 days in September 2003 while being falsely accused of spying, espionage, and aiding the alleged Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners. He was held in solitary confinement and subjected to the same sensory deprivation techniques that were being used against the prisoners in Cuba that he had been ministering to. After months of government investigation, all criminal charges were dropped. Chaplain Yee was reinstated to full duty at Fort Lewis, Washington. He tendered his resignation from the U.S. Army and received an Honorable Discharge on January 7, 2005. Yusuf Yee is touring the UK for the first time and speaking in a number cities, including Glasgow.

Andy Worthington, author of the acclaimed new book The Guantanamo Files, will also be speaking at the meeting. He is expected to draw attention to the plight of the British residents still being held at Guantanamo Bay - men with long-term links to Britain (many of them refugees) but without British passports.

The British government announced at the beginning of August that it is seeking the return of these men. We're still waiting. Just as we're still waiting for any action over the suspected use of British territory in Diego Garcia for illegal detentions, or for any action over Britain's complicity in rendition flights. Aircraft previously linked to rendition and currently registered to probable CIA front companies are thought to have visited Scottish airports on at least two occasions in the last few months. In the last 6 months, Clive Stafford-Smith's legal charity Reprieve and other human rights organisations have uncovered over 200 new cases of rendition and secret detention linked to the US-led "war on terror."

The meeting with James Yee and Andy Worthington is being held at 7:30 pm at the Masjid Al-Furqan, 19 Carrington Street, Glasgow and is open to people of all faiths and none. It will be chaired by human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar and is being organised by Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) and the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS).

Notes

  1. James Yee is touring the UK conjunction with Cageprisoners, FOSIS, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities and the Save Omar Deghayes Campaign.
  2. James Yee will also be speaking in Dundee on Saturday 8 December (2:30 pm Tower Building, Dundee University, Main Lecture Theatre). The Glasgow and Dundee meetings are his only Scottish engagements.
  3. For more about the involvement of Diego Garcia, see the recent report by legal charity Reprieve to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee