January 6, 2010
On Monday January 11 — the eighth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo — the campaigning group Witness Against Torture, with the support of numerous other organizations, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, After Downing Street, No More Guantánamos and The World Can’t Wait, will hold a 12-day fast and vigil outside the White House to protest about the continued existence of the Bush administration’s "War on Terror" prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The vigil runs until January 22, the day on which, according to the deadline established by President Obama last January, the prison would be closed, but as we all now know, that deadline will be missed, and it remains unclear when this dreadful icon of injustice will finally be shut down.
On the evening before the vigil begins (Sunday January 10), there will be a screening of "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo," the new documentary film (directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files), and a number of other events are scheduled for January 11, as described below:
Sunday, January 10, 2010: Screening of "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo" and discussion
7pm, St. Stephens Episcopal Church 1525 Newton Street, NW @16th St. NW
Monday, January 11, 2010: Eight Years since the opening of the Guantánamo Prison
11:30 am: Gather at the White House (plaza between the White House and Lafayette Park) for "No More Guantánamos" Theater and Rally
Following a theater performance comparing the Bush and Obama records on human rights, indefinite detention and Guantánamo, speakers will address the White House, demanding that Guantánamo be closed, the rule of law restored, and those who designed and executed torture policies held to account. We will launch the Fast and Vigil for Justice, which will end on January 22, the administration’s self-imposed deadline for closing the Guantánamo prison. Nearly 100 people from around the country (and 40 or so in Washington, D.C.) will participate in the 12-day fast. We will have orange jumpsuits, hoods and signs at the White House. Please join us, and bring colleagues and friends.
12:30pm: Guantánamo Prisoner Procession
From the White House to the National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
1pm: Public Briefing with the Center for Constitutional Rights
National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Human rights activists and lawyers from CCR, Witness Against Torture, and other groups will hold a public briefing. The briefing will include an update on conditions at Guantánamo and the struggle of detainees for justice, as well as the reading of letters from released and exonerated detainees addressing the Obama administration’s failure to fulfill the terms of his Executive Order closing Guantánamo.
7pm: Eight Years Too Long – Resisting Torture, Indefinite Detention and Abuse at Guantánamo and Beyond: A Grassroots Conversation
Georgetown University Law School McDonough, Room 207, 600 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
Here’s a statement from Witness Against Torture:
Barack Obama’s historic election, the end of the Bush administration, the new tone and tenor of politics in Washington, an executive order, rhetoric about core standards of conduct, human rights and democracy — all of this is hollow and meaningless if not accompanied by actions that lead to justice, freedom and accountability. Closing Guantánamo, breaking with Bush-era policies, ending torture, rendition and indefinite detention is hard, but it must be done. It is taking too long.
January 11, 2010 will mark eight years since the Bush administration turned the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba into a "enemy combatant" detention facility, re-commissioning it as a torture chamber and legal black hole they hoped no one would notice and from which they hoped none would emerge.
Witness Against Torture did notice, and along with many other groups, we have been working to challenge this detention and torture apparatus, to ensure legal representation for the men there, and justice and release for the vast majority — most of whom were swept up in raids in the early days of the US occupation in Afghanistan or are the victims of false condemnation by people eager to collect hefty bounties for "terrorists."
And here’s a statement from Debra Sweet of The World Can’t Wait:
You care about justice, human rights and the rule of law. You had hoped that the election of Barack Obama and his order to shut down Guantánamo and end torture would mean a decisive break the Bush administration. Almost a year later, you are disheartened that more than 200 men remain at Guantánamo, frustrated that the administration promising hope and change is delivering too little of either, and worried about plans for a new system of indefinite detention at an Illinois prison. And you are fearful, as the right again stirs up fear and hatred, that even the modest shifts away from Bush-era policies, such as plans to hold civilian trials for some detainees, will be undone. You are not alone.
For further information, please contact Frida Berrigan (Witness Against Torture) or Debra Sweet (The World Can’t Wait). World Can’t Wait also calls for people everywhere to mark the 8th anniversary of Guantánamo with street protests and showings of the film "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo." Contact Stephanie of World Can’t Wait for further information, or buy your own copy of the DVD from Spectacle Productions.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo" (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.