Press Releases

Press Release: Campaign Launched: Berkeley City Council Resolution to Welcome Cleared Guantánamo Detainees to Berkeley

FROM: Cynthia Papermaster, Director, National Accountability Action Network; Codepink Women for Peace,510-333-6097; Susan Harman, Progressive Democrats of America, 510-866-6743; Nancy Talanian, No More Guantanamos (
Wednesday October 13, 2010 - 08:33:00 AM

Berkeley, CA. On Tuesday, October 12, a coalition of human rights and torture accountability groups [launched] a campaign to pass a Berkeley City Council Resolution welcoming one or two cleared Guantánamo Bay Prison detainees to Berkeley once Congress lifts its current ban. The resolution’s supporters, including groups and individuals who organized “Berkeley Says No to Torture Week”, Oct. 10-16, hope the Berkeley City Council will adopt the resolution promptly, making the City of Berkeley the third U.S. municipality, and the first in California, to do so. No city funds would be used to support the men. They would be sponsored by volunteers, with the help of nonprofit organizations that help asylees. 


“The communities of Amherst and Leverett, Massachusetts, adopted similar resolutions during the last year,” said Cynthia Papermaster, who is coordinating the coalition campaign. “As we’re learning at ‘Berkeley Says No to Torture Week’ programs, the vast majority of detainees are innocent of wrongdoing and we owe them another chance at life, as well as a huge apology for what they’ve suffered. People who illegally approved torture, such as John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Dick Cheney, made us fear the detainees at Guantánamo, Bagram prison in Afghanistan, and other secret prisons worldwide. But Americans don’t know that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were sold to U.S. forces by people who received bounties averaging $5,000 per head for turning in ‘terrorists.’ Stories those people fabricated to collect the bounties were the initial ‘evidence’ against those men, and false confessions of wrongdoing were secured through torture.”  


Most of the 174 detainees who remain in the prison have been determined to pose no danger to the U.S. or its allies, yet they cannot return to their home countries because they would face persecution or because the Obama administration has placed a moratorium on resettlement of Yemenis. 


On January 11, 2011, some of the men who remain in Guantánamo Bay prison will begin their tenth year there. Congress’s ban on allowing any Guantánamo detainees to resettle in the U.S. is standing in the way of their resettlement in other countries. Many U.S. allies want to help, but they question why they are expected to accept all the men in need of third countries when the U.S. refuses to accept a single one. 


Said Papermaster, “It is past time these men were given their freedom and allowed to rebuild their lives. This is a humane gesture and the least we can do to lessen their suffering. Guantánamo detainees who cannot safely return home are really no different than other refugees whom Bay Area communities have welcomed in the past. And if the U.S. government, which has held the men for nearly nine years, can tell other governments it’s safe to take the men, then it should be perfectly safe for them to live here." 

Resolution Text: 


Draft Resolution to Assist in the Safe Resettlement of Cleared Guantánamo Detainees 



WHEREAS, President Obama vowed to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base by January 2010; and 


WHEREAS, many detainees at Guantánamo have been cleared by our government of wrongdoing and have been determined to pose no threat to the United States; and 


WHEREAS, many of these detainees cannot be repatriated because they are either stateless or have a well-founded fear of harm if returned to their home country; and 


WHEREAS, our government has asked other countries to accept cleared detainees but has banned their settlement in the United States; and 


WHEREAS, these detainees have suffered unjust imprisonment for many years; and 


WHEREAS, the city of Berkeley has many resources to help such detainees with trauma from their imprisonment; and 


WHEREAS, Berkeley residents have welcomed in the past many refugees from state-based violence experienced in other countries, 




THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Berkeley City Council: 




1) Urges Congress to repeal the ban on releasing cleared detainees into the United States and 


2) Welcomes such cleared detainees into our community as soon as the ban is lifted. 




And BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this Resolution be sent to the President and Attorney General of the United States, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, the United States Senators for California, and Barbara Lee, the United States Representative for California's Ninth District.