SHAC 7 Case Update – First Amendment Rights = Domestic Terrorism?
Historic Strike – Privatizing Puerto Rico; Bar Association Dismantled.
Public services ground to a halt on October 15 in Puerto Rico as a massive one day general strike brought more than 100,000 people to protest the layoff of about 17,000 of Puerto Rico’s public employees. The demonstration shut down all state-owned enterprises including the island’s schools and colleges. The airport remained opened, while tens of thousands were reported to converge on San Juan’s Plaza Las Americas.
The main labor organizations, the General Workers Union and the All Puerto Rico for Puerto Rico Coalition supported the general strike. In May of this year, the Puerto Rican government laid off nearly 8,000 employees and then hired about 3,000 temporary teachers and assistants. Union leaders claim that Governor Luis Fortuno is planning to privatize government services. Outrage to the proposed layoffs have rippled into New York City, amid the second largest community of Puerto Rican people.
Attorney Judith Berkan:
Public worker dismissals at almost 25,000.
Any agencies who deal in service to the poor or working class in Puerto Rico
Two days before the strike, the governor signed and passed a bill aimed at dismantling the Bar Association
After the massive first strike there have been daily strikes
They want to return us to the days of the Oligarchy, concentrating wealth into the hands of a few while the remainders pick up the crumbs
Protesters: Students from every university, every sector of the labor movement, the religious sector, cultural organizations, 700 school principals.
There were 2,000 janitors in the schools, right now there are no janitors in the schools of Puerto Rico and that’s going to be privatized.
Two thousand school janitors were fired in the middle of the swine flu scare. The government plans to put these jobs out to bid for private companies.
The atitude is . . . we’re doing this and the rest of you be damned.
Puerto Rican government: Marcos Rodriguez Ema brought in again whose forte has always been privatization. He said on a radio station that if there was any blockage of commerce that it could be brought under the Patriot Act. He said that they are terrorists and they’re trying to block commerce.
The way they framed it, if you stop commerce, particularly, the docks and the airports, that would be sanctionable under federal law.
There have been a number of very offensive comments by the people in charge. Calling community leaders leeches, lowlifes, openly.
The legislation has cut off funding for the Bar Association in Puerto Rico.
I think the militancy will continue, we have not seen the last of general strikes here.
Guest – Attorney Judith Berkan is a partner in the San Juan law firm of Berkan/Mendez. She specializes in government misconduct litigation and employment discrimination cases. Berkan worked as an attorney in New Haven, Connecticut before going to Puerto Rico as the staff attorney for the Puerto Rico Legal Project of the National Lawyers Guild, now the Puerto Rico Civil Rights Institute. For twenty-seven years, she has been teaching, primarily in the Constitutional Law area, at the Inter American University Law School in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
A frequent speaker and author of many articles on civil rights issues, she was the President of the Human Rights Commission of the Puerto Rico Bar Association in the mid-1990’s and a member of the Commonwealth Supreme Court’s task force on gender discrimination.
Guantanamo Update: 223 people left in Guantanamo, 97 are Yemeni.
Alla Ali Bin Ahmed was among the 98 remaining Yemeni prisoners let go from Guantanamo Bay prison. In May of this year, a judge reviewed the government’s classified evidence again Ahmed, and ruled that his incarceration had never been justified. Never been justified? Yet, he remained like many Yemenis in Guantanamo Prison. Earlier this year, the Center for Constitutional Rights called for all Yemeni detainees to be released and repatriated. In a media statement, CCR attorney Pardiss Kabriaei said, ”More than one-third of the prisoners at Guantanamo right now are from Yemen. Most have been detained without any charge and in brutal conditions for over six years. It is unacceptable that the Yemeni and U.S. governments have not come to an agreement to bring these men home. There is absolutely nothing which should prevent their return to Yemen.”
Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei:
This is the part of Guantanamo that is about accountability.
A case filed in 2008 on behalf of 2 men that died in Guantanamo on June 2006
We brought this case against 20 officials, including Rumsfeld and Michael Leonard, Geoffrey Miller, people who were in charge of and approved torture techniques.
U.S. Army General Bantz John Craddock who introduced a policy of force-feeding in Guantanamo whereby detainees are literally strapped into chairs that are called restraint chairs, strapped in at five points, while a tube is forced up their nose and down their stomachs and formula is pumped into them for about an hour also named are physicians who knew by virtue of reports from the Red Cross.
Center for Constitutional Rights – When Healers Harm – A focus on the accountability of medical personnel in Guantanamo who have a professional duty and oath to protect the health and well-being of men.
It took 2 years for the military to conduct its investigation of these suicides.
We filed Monday Oct 6, a motion to dismiss, they want to get rid of the case essentially, under the point that reporting claims of abuse are barred under the Military Commissions Act of 2006
There is a provision in it Section 7, we’re challenging the constitutionality of that provision, the provision in the Military Commissions Act of 2006, that prevents detainees to bring lawsuits against the United States, the first time this MCA, has been asserted, now under the Obama Administration.
Mohammed al Qahtani – videotapes document the torture he was experiencing, forced nudity, prolonged solitary confinement, using dogs and sexual abuse. Those are the methods that were approved by Donald Rumsfeld in 2002
January deadline to close Guantanamo is not going to be met, according to US Attorney Gen. Holder
223 people left in Guantanamo, 97 are Yemeni.
Federal judges have ruled on some 30 cases, that there is no lawful basis to hold them, yet of 30, 19 remain in Guantanamo. (Kuwaitis/Yemenis)
Not the worst of the worst left in Guantanamo, it is nationality.
There are innocent people who have been in prison for 8 years, it’s not a solution to sit back any longer.
Guantanamo may stay open a few months past January and then transfer prisoners to the US.
Guest – Pardiss Kebriaei, Staff Attorney with the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center For Constitutional Rights.