On Tuesday evening, Berkeley’s City Council approved a resolution
supporting the closure of Guantánamo Bay Prison and justice for cleared detainees.
The resolution’s passage makes Berkeley the third U.S. municipality, and the first city in the country, to welcome to its community detainees who have been cleared as posing no danger to the U.S., but who cannot safely return to their home countries.
The Massachusetts towns of Amherst and Leverett adopted similar resolutions in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Rita Maran, a commissioner within the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, led the effort to draft Berkeley’s resolution and represented the Commission at last night’s meeting.
The Peace and Justice Commission had voted in July to recommend that the City Council adopt the resolution.
During the brief discussion about the resolution, City Councilor and Vice-Mayor Linda Maio stipulated that, following the meeting, Maran provide the City Council with a list of non-profit organizations that would be called upon to provide support to the former detainees in the event that they resettle in Berkeley. After Maran agreed to provide the list, Mayor Tom Bates moved the resolution from Action to Consent. The resolution passed with only one City Councilor dissenting.
The resolutions passed in Berkeley, Amherst, and Leverett all urge Congress to remove bans on allowing cleared Guantánamo detainees to enter the U.S.
Members of the Pioneer Valley affiliate of No More Guantánamos (www.nogitmos.org
) introduced the Amherst
Nancy Talanian, the executive director of No More Guantánamos, commended the City Council and the resolution's supporters. She said, "Dozens of innocent men remain in Guantánamo simply because they cannot safely return to their home countries, and U.S. allies rightly question why they must welcome all of them when the U.S. refuses to take any. Berkeley's resolution is a necessary step toward closing the prison with justice and restoring our country’s commitment to human rights."