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Wednesday, June 20, 2007 04:58 pm

Solidarity vigil

Local group urges repeal of detainee law

Diane Lopez Hughes
Untitled Document Stop torture now. Restore habeas corpus. Scrap the military tribunals. Springfield peace activists say they won’t give up until those in power are persuaded to answer these crucial demands. Local justice groups will sponsor a solidarity vigil and rally at the Capitol steps, 4:45-5:45 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, to urge the repeal of the Military Commissions Act — a bill signed last year removing the right to a fair trial from foreign detainees and instead creating military councils to investigate war-crimes charges. Activists say the then-Republican-dominated Congress violated the U.S. Constitution and disregarded the Geneva Conventions with the act’s passage. “Our concern is, when one person’s rights are violated, it opens the doors for everyone’s rights to be violated,” local organizer Diane Lopez Hughes says. “Now is the time to take action.”
Lopez Hughes says that the groups taking part in the rally hope that the new Congress will make a difference, and they may be right. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee recently voted to send a proposal retaining the right of habeas corpus for debate by the full Senate. Tuesday’s vigil and rally correspond to an event scheduled for Washington, D.C., and will also commemorate Torture Awareness Month. Earlier in the day, constituents will present letters and stand outside the offices of U.S. Reps. Ray LaHood and John Shimkus, requesting their support of future habeas corpus legislation.
“This is our Springfield version of speaking out for justice,” says Lopez Hughes. Co-sponsors are the local American Civil Liberties Union, Pax Christi Springfield, the Mary Wood Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Justice and Peace Office of the Franciscan Sisters.
Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.
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