(Originally posted to Politics at EraBlog on Tue, 02 Dec 2003 08:32:12 GMT)
I sign a lot of petitions. Here’s one that I wrote a custom letter for.
First, the background.
From: "John - THE LIST" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Monday, December 01, 2003 6:24 PM Subject: THE LIST: Action Alert - Free Ruslan Sharipov THE LIST - Special Alert for Gay Torture Victim
Washington, DC December 1, 2003
Ruslan Sharipov, a journalist in Uzbekistan, is being imprisoned and tortured because he’s gay. His government captors have threatened to rape him with a bottle and inject him with AIDS. But there is talk that the government may soon amnesty a few political prisoners. Let’s make sure he is one of them by emailing the 3 key US officials below, demanding they tell the Uzbek government to free Ruslan Sharipov.
I’ve managed to get the direct email addresses for these rather high-ranking US officials. Let’s take advantage of our luck. And if you’re not American, no matter - it’s still good for them to hear that people around the world are watching America’s actions on this important case:
You can read more about Ruslan’s case at the Human Rights Watch Web site. BACKGROUND
Earlier this year, openly-gay journalist Ruslan Sharipov was given a five-year prison term by the Uzbek government simply because he is an openly-gay advocate for human rights in his Stalinist homeland. In the six months he’s already been in prison, the 25-year-old Ruslan has been physically and mentally tortured, and forced to write his own suicide note. WHY YOUR EMAILS MATTER
This month, December 2003, the Uzbek government, under intense international pressure from groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, is reportedly considering freeing some of its 7,000 to 10,000 political prisoners. We need to make sure that Ruslan is among those freed.
I have it on good authority that senior US officials do not believe the American people care about Ruslan’s imprisonment and torture. They think we don’t care that the Bush Administration is giving Uzbekistan $500 million a year in aid, much of it going towards training the very state security apparatus that tortures gays and lesbians and other political prisoners. And they think we don’t care that earlier this year two political prisoners were boiled alive, and that our tax money helps all of this happen. IT’S TIME TO TELL THE US GOVERNMENT WE DO CARE.
President Bush tells us he’s fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq, then supports a brutal dictator next door. President Bush needs to start practicing what he preaches. He should tell the government of Uzbekistan to free gay journalist Ruslan Sharipov. Again, those email addresses are: - grossmanM2@state.gov - AppletonDE@state.gov - email@example.com
Thanks so much, and please share this email alert with all of your friends and colleagues. I truly believe that if we all get involved now, this is one we can win in no time. (I’m doing this update as a text-only version so you can easily forward it by email to your friends and colleagues.)
JOHN ARAVOSIS Editor, THE LIST and HateCrime.org Washington, DC
PS For more information on Ruslan’s case, visit Human Rights Watch Web site.
Here’s the letter that I sent.
From: George V. Reilly To: grossmanM2@state.gov ; AppletonDE@state.gov ; firstname.lastname@example.org Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2003 12:03 AM Subject: Free Ruslan Sharipov
The Bush Administration has taken to arguing that the US invaded Iraq to save the Iraqi people from the brutality and torture of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and to bring democracy. It’s unquestionably good that the torturers of Iraq are gone.
But the Administration has also given $500 million to Uzbekistan, where political prisoners have been boiled alive. Have we learned nothing from the past? Saddam was once our puppet, as were many other dictators in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere. The CIA helped overthrow Mossadegh’s democratically elected government in Iran in 1953, to our lasting cost. Supporting brutal dictators may help our strategic position in the short term, but it makes us look like hypocrites. Can we not do better than this?
I am particularly concerned about the plight of Ruslan Sharipov, the gay journalist and human rights advocate who has been imprisoned in Uzbekistan on trumped-up charges. I ask you to call upon the Uzbek government to free Sharipov and other political prisoners.
/George V. Reilly Seattle, WA
May it do some good.
Update: Ruslan was released and granted asylum in the U.S..