by Valtin | 9/03/2008 11:23:00 AM
Last week I publicized the extraordinary appeal campaign for Guantanamo detainee Mohammad Jawad initiated by his military attorneys. Jawad, who was arrested as a teenager in Afghanistan in December 2002, is the first child soldier to be tried as a "war criminal" in modern times. In U.S. custody, he has suffered beatings, threats, physical isolation, sleep deprivation, been subjected to 24-hour bright lights, and more. His attorneys have called for letters to be written to the Convening Authority at Guanatanamo, asking them to withdraw and dismiss the charges against Jawad.

Now, his attorneys have initiated an online petition campaign in his behalf. You can follow this link to go straight to the petition. Please sign it and pass the info on to whomever you can.

The latest news in the Jawad case is that Susan Crawford, the Convening Authority for the Military Tribunals at Guantanamo, has denied Major David Frakt's request for a face-to-face meeting with the defense. It is more important now then ever that we let the powers that be at Guantanamo and in the Pentagon know that we condemn this miscarriage of justice.

From the petition's appeal:
Mohammad Jawad is one of two juveniles captured in the war in Afghanistan to face charges before military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mohammad Jawad is charged with attempted murder stemming from a hand-grenade attack forces in Kabul, Afghanistan on December 17, 2002 in which two U.S. special forces soldiers and their Afghan interpreter were injured. Charges were referred to trial by the Convening Authority (the senior official in the military commissions) in January 2008. Since that time, significant new evidence has come to light casting doubt on Mr. Jawad's involvement in the attack. Additionally, significant evidence has come to light about the torture and abuse Mr. Jawad has suffered during his detention at Bagram Prison and Guantanamo Bay over the last 5 years and 8 months.

The charges against Mr. Jawad are unsupported under international law. Charging a child soldier with war crimes is unprecedented in modern history. The military judge has ordered the Convening Authority to reconsider her decision to refer the charges to trial and has afforded the defense an opportunity to submit written matters to the Convening Authority for her consideration. This petition drive and an associated letter-writing campaign are part of the defense efforts to persuade the Convening Authority to drop the charges. Thank you for your support.
The good folks at have posted a sample letter with talking points on the case. Did you know, for instance...
Significant doubt exists about Mohammad Jawad’s role in the grenade attack of December 17, 2007:
· Afghan Interior Minister Taj Wardak publicly stated in a press conference on December 18, 2008 that three men were arrested, one teenager and two adults, in connection with the attack, and all three men had confessed their role. Only one hand grenade was thrown.

· Contemporaneous press accounts and military incident reports all indicate there were multiple perpetrators involved in the attack, and that more than one person was arrested.

· The adult perpetrators of the attack are not in U.S. custody and have not been brought to justice for their role in the attack.

· According to Mohammad Jawad, he was forcibly drugged for weeks prior to the attack including on the day of the attack. Several officials involved in interrogating Mohammad Jawad after the attack, both Afghani and American, observed that he appeared to be under the influence of drugs or going through withdrawal from drugs.

· The case against Mohammad Jawad relies almost entirely on a “confession” purportedly taken from Mohammad Jawad by Afghan authorities on December 17, 2002. According to Mohammad Jawad, he was subjected to both physical abuse and coerced by threats while in Afghan police custody. The confession itself was not written by Mohammad Jawad, who was functionally illiterate, and bears only his thumbprint. The confession is not even written in Mohammad Jawad’s native language of Pashto. Virtually all of the independently verifiable facts in the so-called confession are demonstrably false....

· Mohammad Jawad has been interrogated approximately 36 times at Guantanamo. In all of these interrogation sessions, he has never admitted throwing the hand grenade and has affirmatively and adamantly denied it, despite the use of illegal “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Mohammad Jawad, the same techniques which have broken hardened terrorists. Some of the interrogators and even the Combatant Status Review Tribunal have expressed doubt as to whether he threw the hand grenade.

· Mohammad Jawad is the only person charged under the MCA who is not even alleged to have any affiliation with al Qaida or the Taliban.

· No one died in the attack allegedly perpetrated by Mohammad Jawad. The injuries sustained by the two Special Forces soldiers in the attack, while painful, were not life-threatening. Both soldiers have been fully rehabilitated. One is back on active duty with the military and the other is a police officer in California. The Afghan interpreter received a humanitarian visa to the United States and has resettled permanently in Virginia.

· Significant doubt exists over whether the commission has jurisdiction over the alleged offense of Mohammad Jawad. Hand grenades are lawful weapons and uniformed soldiers in a combat zone are lawful military targets. Mohammad Jawad’s alleged actions are not a violation of the law of war. Even if we assume that he did throw the hand grenade, and was able to form the specific intent to kill the U.S. soldiers, this constitutes the domestic crime of attempted murder, it does not constitute the offense of attempted murder in violation of the law of war.
Mohammad Jawad is a human being -- on the battlefield, a mere teenager kidnapped and forced to fight for an Afghan militia. He has suffered tremendously. You can do something about it. It only takes a minute to sign a petition. You'll rarely have a chance to make so much difference with one minute of your time. Hopefully, you'll be inspired to email the petition link or this article to someone else.

A young man's life, swept up in the chaos and drama of a conflict half a world away, a man who is no terrorist or killer, stands in the balance. On the other side stands the Bush Administration's jerry-rigged, unfair military tribunal system, and its gulag of prisons, adept in the administration of psychological torture, built to extend the dictatorial reach of the President of the United States over every spot in the world.

Drop the charges and release Mohammad Jawad. Close down Guantanamo and the CIA secret prison system. Stop the torture and abuse of detainees.

Also posted at Invictus

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