From the Archive
Witness Against Torture (WAT), which has long condemned US crimes in its “war on terror,” is both appalled and saddened by the escalating conflict in Yemen and its attending, humanitarian crisis. Recent US airstrikes in Yemen, recklessly ordered by the Trump administration, have claimed dozens of civilian lives. The United States continues to back Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, adding to the devastation of the impoverished, war-torn country. A sea-blockade of rebel areas by the US backed, Saudi-led coalition threatens famine for millions of Yemenis. Meanwhile, the Trump administration appears to be weakening measures to avoid civilian deaths in various wars the United States is fighting, with the predictable result that more civilians are dying.
When John Yoo was to speak on the George Washington University campus in a debate hosted by the student chapter of the Federalist Society, Anagha Bharadwaj, a GWU law student who joined WAT at the inauguration, needed support from WAT to protest his presence. We immediately put out the call and two days later a trusty band of local activists showed up for the noon debate at the law school, including folks from Code Pink, TASSC, Vets for Peace and the South Korean peace movement. Campus police arrived to inform us that we weren’t allowed to protest on campus: no signs, no picketing, no chanting on their hallowed grounds. But our showing on the public sidewalk in front of the building was articulate.
I am finding it difficult to write this brief reflection from my J11 experience at the Fast for Justice in DC. Not because I have nothing to say, I usually have too many thoughts to keep up with. I struggle with the idea of sharing my perspective. This information isn’t new or special especially to a community who has been witnessing for years. I don’t know nearly enough and am aware that I never will but I am grateful for the chance to continue learning and growing with you all. I want to say my ability to be arrested was a privilege and isn’t deserving of praise. I knew my body would be safe and I would make it out of January 11 alive and essentially unscathed. Emotionally different but nonetheless safe. I am not comfortable with the idea of praise for these actions mainly because our resistance is necessary and urgent. I am grateful to honor what we are doing and our intentions but we must remember there is always much more to be done.
We wanted to send out a recap of our witness at the Inauguration Resistance and the Women’s March in D.C. You may view more photos at the following links:
Women’s March on Washington
We direct you again to WAT’s statement opposing Trump’s agenda on torture and detention, and to the new video that Justin made to break down what needs to happen to close Guantanamo, now that Trump is president. Our friends, the Peace Poets created a new spoken word video to encourage us in these difficult times – view it here.
Lastly, we have included an ask from our partners the Coalition of Concerned Mothers – please sign their petition here and read about their work.
Witness Against Torture Calls for the Rejection of Executive Order Measures, Warns of Broad Dangers of Trump Agenda
The draft of an Executive Order on US detention and interrogations threatens a nightmarish return to the illegal, immoral, and un-American torture policies of the Bush administration. Its proposed measures — from the re-establishment of CIA “black sites,” to the review of interrogation practices as detailed in Army Field Manuel, to the denial of International Committee of the Red Cross access to US detention centers — point to one thing: the resumption of the cruel, inhuman, degrading, and torturous abuse of Muslims.
We celebrate the release of ten more men from Guantanamo Bay Prison: Ghaleb Nassar Al Bihani, Mustafa Abd al-Qawi Abd al-Aziz Al-Shamiri, Karim Bostam, Abdul Sahir, Musab Omar Ali Al-Mudwani, Hail Aziz Ahmed Al-Maythali, Salman Yahya Hassan Mohammad Rabei’i, Mohammed Al-Ansi, Muhammad Ahmad Said Haider, and Walid Said bin Said Zaid. They were released to Oman over the weekend. We were privileged to spend time in D.C. with Ghaleb’s wonderful drawings when we visited the Tea Project’s Exhibit (It is open until Friday at GWU’s Gallery 102).
Below are some more detailed notes from the workshop that Jerica led based on the class she teaches on Whiteness. There are questions at the end which we considered together as we planned our witness in DC on January 11 and during the inauguration resistance. We invite you to read through these resources and consider these questions with us.
Clad in orange jumpsuits and “Shut Down Guantánamo” t-shirts, activists with Witness Against Torture took over the Hart Senate Building with a message for senators, staffers, and the general public. They marked the 15th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Day 6 of the fast was “Pentagon Monday” and brought an early morning and cold temperatures. The lights turned on at 5:30am to allow our 30 plus people to wake up, get dressed, and travel to join the Dorothy Day House weekly vigil at the Pentagon. We brought the men in Guantanamo with us as we held vigil in the bitter cold. We spoke their words as the police stood watch and employees rushed pass. It is hard to judge the impact of our presence but there is something important about witnessing at the center of U.S. war making.