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May 14, 2010
2:30 PM

CONTACT: No More Guantánamos

Nancy Talanian, Director, No More Guantánamos, 413-665-1150,
Ruth Hooke, Amherst, MA, 413-256-8441,
Elizabeth L. Adams, Leverett, MA, 413-522-7505,

Two Massachusetts Towns Welcome Guantánamo Detainee Ordered Released by a Federal Judge

WASHINGTON - May 14 - On Thursday, US District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., granted Guantanamo detainee Ravil Mingazov’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus and ordered the Obama administration to release him from the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, finding the administration had no legal basis for holding him. Mingazov is the 35th detainee to win his habeas petition out of 48 whose petitions have been reviewed.

The administration must now decide where it will send Mingazov, who like most of the remaining detainees already cleared, cannot safely return to his home country. Mingazov, a Russian, fled religious persecution in his home country in 2001. Congress passed a ban last year that currently prevents any former detainees from entering the US except for prosecution.
Two communities in Massachusetts—Amherst and Leverett—have passed resolutions welcoming a few cleared detainees once Congress lifts its current blanket ban. Mingazov is one of two detainees whom the towns have in mind to welcome. Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian who was cleared for transfer by the Bush administration more than three years ago, is the second detainee.
The resolutions that Amherst Special Town Meeting and Leverett Town Meeting passed on November 4, 2009, and April 24, 2010, respectively, were initiated by Ruth Hooke and Beth Adams. Both women are local members of No More Guantánamos [], a national grassroots organization working to ensure justice for the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram air base in Afghanistan, and other offshore prison sites maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon around the world.
Nancy Talanian, director of No More Guantánamos, says that the organization’s chapters around the country each choose one or two detainees and share the men’s stories through events, literature, and media to show the public that all Guantánamo detainees are human beings who deserve basic human rights, rather than the monsters that some government officials have described.
“Our Pioneer Valley chapter chose Ravil Mingazov and Ahmed Belbacha last spring,” Talanian said. “Although Ravil had not yet been cleared, our members were confident that he had done nothing wrong and should be released. We are very happy that the judge agrees.”
Talanian believes the resolutions’ passage shows that Americans who know the stories of actual detainees are more willing than the majority of Americans who continue to believe the men are all ‘the worst of the worst,’ despite the releases of more than 600 former detainees, most by the Bush administration.
“Congress’s blanket ban on allowing any of the men to live here is standing in the way of the prison’s closure, which we believe will make Americans safer,” she said. “Guantánamo detainees who cannot safely return home are really no different than other refugees whom western Mass. communities have welcomed in the past,” she said. “And if the US government, which has held the men for more than eight years, claims the men would not pose any danger if they are sent to live in allied countries, that should be sufficient assurance that we can be safe with some of them living here.”
No More Guantánamos [] is a coalition of concerned U.S. residents, communities, organizations, and attorneys who are working together to ensure justice for the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram air base in Afghanistan, and other offshore prison sites maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon around the world. We work to ensure basic human rights for all prisoners, including the right to be either charged for crimes and tried or released, in accordance with international law, and not held indefinitely, and to find homes for prisoners who cannot return home.
The organization formed soon after President Obama’s executive order to close Guantánamo Bay prison by January 22, 2009. Chapter locations besides the Pioneer Valley include Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; New York City; Denver, Colorado; and Tallahassee, Florida.


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