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Martin Sheen to play Rumsfeld at mock trial; torture practices focus of weekend

'Call for Justice Weekend,' sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, will protest U.S. torture policies.
By Jane Greer

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Martin Sheen, known for his portrayal of President Josiah Bartlet in NBC’s The West Wing and as a supporter of liberal causes, is scheduled to play U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a mock trial on Sunday, September 25, 2005, as part of the interfaith Call for Justice Weekend in Washington, D.C., sponsored in part by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC).

The mock trial will address violations of international and U.S. laws prohibiting torture and will feature real lawyers and genuine testimony from torture victims, some of whom may be present. Additional defendants in the mock trial include former CIA Director George Tenet and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The Call for Justice Weekend, September 24 to 26, will include rallies, worship services, and workshops focusing largely on the issue of torture. On Monday, September 26, attendees will be encouraged to lobby their legislators about the abolition of torture. An antiwar rally and march will take place on Saturday afternoon, September 24.

The UUSC has taken the lead in organizing the weekend. An independent, nonprofit organization affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, the UUSC is a nonsectarian organization that focuses on human rights and social justice issues worldwide. The illegal use of torture has become one of its primary program areas.

Unitarian Universalists have consistently opposed the use of torture. This summer the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations passed an Action of Immediate Witness condemning the use of torture by the United States. “United States-sanctioned torture is not justified by national security needs,” the Action states. “It engenders hatred against us. It does not keep us safe. Our practice of torture has shamed us and endangers our troops abroad and citizens at home.”

All Souls Church, Unitarian, in Washington, D.C., will host a special interfaith worship service on Sunday morning to coincide with the weekend’s events.

Sheen’s appearance is subject to unanticipated changes in his schedule.

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