12 Nobel Peace Laureates Call on President Obama to Reckon With U.S. Use of Torture

October 27, 2014 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – Twelve Nobel Peace Prize winners sent a letter to President Obama today calling on the United States to provide full disclosure of the authorization, extent, and use of torture and rendition in the years following 9/11 so that the nation can truly grapple with what was done in its name.

The letter, which includes such notables as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jose Ramos-Horta, says that President Obama’s recent admission that the United States engaged in torture is a first step at reckoning but that a great deal more needs to be done, including releasing the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s long-awaited report on the CIA’s use of torture.

The Nobel laureates also call on the United States to verify that “black sites” for the use of torture and interrogation abroad have been closed, shutter the Guantanamo Bay prison, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention against Torture.

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, had this comment:

These men and women of courage and conscience rightly emphasize the historic crossroads our nation faces when the Senate’s landmark torture report is released. The eyes of the world are on President Obama to account for and forever ban the shameful use of torture, cruelty, and indefinite detention. Ordering an end to the CIA’s self-serving fight over redactions in the Senate report would be a good place to start. The laureates’ words are a powerful reminder that when we stray from our values and respect for human rights, the whole world feels the negative effects.

The letter was signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, José Ramos-Horta, Mohamed ElBaradei, Muhammad Yunus, Jody Williams, Oscar Arias Sanches, Frederik Willem de Klerk, Betty Williams, Bishop C. X. Belo, John Hume, and Adolfo Peres Esquivel.

The letter reads, in part:

We have reason to feel strongly about torture. Many of us among the Nobel Peace Prize laureates have seen firsthand the effects of the use of torture in our own countries. Some are torture survivors ourselves. Many have also been involved in the process of recovery, of helping to walk our countries and our regions out of the shadows of their own periods of conflict and abuse.

It is with this experience that we stand firmly with those Americans who are asking the US to bring its use of torture into the light of day, and for the United States to take the necessary steps to emerge from this dark period of its history, never to return.

In recent decades, by accepting the flagrant use of torture and other violations of international law in the name of combating terrorism, American leaders have eroded the very freedoms and rights that generations of their young gave their lives to defend. They have again set an example that will be followed by others; only now, it is one that will be used to justify the use of torture by regimes around the world, including against American soldiers in foreign lands. In losing their way, they have made us all vulnerable.

The letter is at:

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