There is a Man Under that Hood: Book launch, performance and more news

Fast for Justice 2018 // Film

There is a Man Under that Hood: Closing Guantanamo and Ending Torture in the Age of Trump

January 10, 2017 – The Impact Hub
419 7th St. NW, Washington, DC
6-8 pm

Please join Witness Against Torture, the Peace Poets and friends for a book launch and performance on the eve of our annual January 11 demonstrations against Guantanamo. The book — “There is a Man Under that Hood” —  sets the words of Luke Nephew’s (Peace Poets) remarkable poem of that title to images of anti-torture demonstrations: photographs taken or curated by Justin Norman (WAT).  The afterword is written by Omar Farah, Senior Staff Attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The Peace Poets will perform pieces from current human rights struggles. UK author Andy Worthington will address the state of Guantanamo in the era of Trump. And legal advocates will report on the fate of their clients still in the prison. Together, we will celebrate our resistance to torture and work to close Guantanamo.

January 2018 Fast for Justice

The January 10 event is on Day 3 of the WAT Fast for Justice, January  7 – 14.   We invite you to join us in community in DC — for the week or any part of it.  Please let us know you’re coming by sending an email to witnesstorture@gmail.com.

Here is a skeleton structure for the week:  Sun evening: arrive; Mon: share morning meal and begin fast, planning and week’s activities; Wed evening:  Book launch and Peace Poet performance; Thu: Guantanamo rally and action; Fri afternoon: possibly join No Foreign Military Bases rally; Fri/Sat: strategic planning; Sun morning: final circle and depart.

North Carolina Torture Accountability Hearings: Nov. 30 and Dec. 1

You are invited to attend public hearings on the U.S. torture program and North Carolina’s involvement, to be held in Raleigh, NC on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.  The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on  Torture  (NCCIT) is conducting the nation’s first state-level, non-partisan, blue-ribbon examination of the record of U.S. torture, in particular of the role played by North Carolina in the Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program.  That role involves hosting CIA aviation infrastructure that accounted for the renditions of fully 30% of the black-site prisoners listed in the Senate torture report.

The list of witnesses for the two days includes Alberto Mora, Juan Mendez, Mohamedou Slahi, Lt. Col. Sterling Thomas, Steve Kleinman, and Mark Fallon.  Fallon has written a controversial new book on torture, “Unjustifiable Means.”  NCCIT is a nonprofit organization established to investigate and encourage public debate about the role that North Carolina played in facilitating the U.S. torture program carried out between 2001 – 2009.

Guantanamo authorities no longer force-feeding hunger strikers

According to the anti-torture organization Reprieve, medical staff at Guantanamo are no longer force-feeding hunger striking prisoners.  Will the U.S. government allow prisoners to suffer organ failure or even death?  WAT organizer Dr. Maha Hilal in her recent article for Newsweek, poses the prisoners’ dilemma in  this way:

“But of course, what the prisoners are ultimately asking for is justice, not force feeding — something that seems to be increasingly out of reach under the Trump administration.”

Maha goes on to describe the nature of the prisoners’ act of resistance:

“Muslim prisoners who have constantly been vilified in the War on Terror are using this last, dangerous form of resistance — despite the personal harm it’s causing them — to re-claim ownership over their bodies in a system that has denied them all other levels of agency.”

Ever since WAT formed in 2005, traveling to Cuba to attempt to visit hunger-striking Guantanamo prisoners, fasting in solidarity with them at the prison gates, we have denounced force-feeding as an act of torture.  We call upon U.S. authorities to listen to the hunger strikers’ desperate pleas: Try the prisoners or release them.  End indefinite detention and torture.  Close Guantanamo.

The military commissions at Guantanamo have reached a “new low”

Andy Worthington details the latest absurdities in the war court at Gitmo.  A New Low for Guantánamo’s Credibility: The Brief But Absurd Imprisonment of the Military Commissions’ Chief Defense Counsel

Julia E. Rodriguez, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, writes in the New York Times that the military commissions have “yielded nothing” for Sept. 11th families.  Guantánamo Is Delaying Justice for 9/11 Families

And lest we forget, the military base where the commissions are taking place is itself illegal, as WAT member Martin Gugino points out in his recent letter to the editor: The U.S. has breached Guantanamo agreement

We Must Resist: Come to DC in January!

For 13 years Witness Against Torture has championed the cause of the Muslim men unjustly imprisoned by the our government at Guantanamo, using the prison to shine a light on the other U.S. institutions of racist, Islamophobic state violence.   But now, as our outrageous Narcissist-In-Chief distracts the world, those very institutions are quietly cementing into place and strengthening the security state that deprives entire groups of people of due process and protection under the law.   We must resist: come to DC in January to witness in community and to build bridges with our allies as we engage the future!

Donate to support our work

Please consider a donation to help fund our annual Fast for Justice this January.  We are completely volunteer driven and run. We have no paid staff; all of the money you donate goes to funding the work we do together. We are fiscally sponsored by the Washington Peace Center. The Washington Peace Center is a verified US-registered non profit. If you are able, click here to donate.

Witness Against Torture formed in 2005 when 25 Americans went to Guantánamo Bay and attempted to visit the detention facility. They began to organize more broadly to shut down Guantánamo, end indefinite detention and torture and call out Islamophobia. During our demonstrations, we lift up the words of the detainees themselves, bringing them to public spaces they are not permitted to access. Witness Against Torture will carry on in its activities until torture is decisively ended, its victims are fully acknowledged,Guantánamo and similar facilities are closed, and those who ordered and committed torture are held to account.

Please “like” us on Facebook & follow us on Twitter.

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Announcing 2018 Fast for Justice, Jan. 7-14

In Focus - Front Page // Film

Dear Friends,

2018 Fast For Justice, Jan. 7 – 14
Mark your calendars!  Witness Against Torture will return to Washington January 7 – 14 for our 2018 Fast for Justice.  As a community we will again offer our public witness to close Guantanamo, end indefinite detention, and hold torturers accountable.

We hope you’ll join us as we gather at First Trinity Lutheran Church in Washington, DC beginning on the evening of Jan. 7.  We’ll start our fast after having a meal together Monday morning Jan. 8.  On Thursday, Jan. 11 we’ll hold a day of action to mark 16 long years since the first men were brought to Guantanamo.  We’ll conclude our Fast for Justice with a strategic planning weekend, inviting our partners to join us. Further details about the week’s activities will be provided later.  If you plan to come, please let us know at witnesstorture@gmail.com.

Welcome to Camp America:  Inside Guantanamo Bay, Oct. 19 in DC
Please join CCR for a conversation about Guantánamo, art, and activism to celebrate the launch of conceptual documentary artist Debi Cornwall’s new book, Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantánamo Bay.   The event will be held Thursday, Oct. 19, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, at Busboys and Poets (14th & V St.) in DC.  Witness Against Torture and DC Justice for Muslims Coalition are cosponsors.  CCR advocacy program manager Aliya Hussain will moderate the conversation with Debi Cornwall, Major Raashid Williams, a defense lawyer with the Military Commissions Defense Organization, and Dr. Maha Hilal, the inaugural Michael Ratner Middle East Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and an organizer with Witness Against Torture.   To learn more about the event, visit CCR’s webpage.

Reflecting on accountability for torture
WAT organizing team member Dr. Maha Hilal recently published an article entitled “Abu Ghraib: The legacy of torture in the war on terror.”  Reflecting on the recent hearing about contractor accountability in the case Al-Shimari v CACI et al, Maha writes: “For the United States in the war on terror, accountability has meant little other than prosecuting the so-called ‘bad apples’ who conduct torture and/or murder in order to make the point that they are an aberration, not a product of a system-wide policy of sanctioned abuse in the war on terror.”

Donate to support our work
Please consider a donation to help fund our annual Fast for Justice this January.  We are completely volunteer driven and run. We have no paid staff; all of the money you donate goes to funding the work we do together. We are fiscally sponsored by the Washington Peace Center. The Washington Peace Center is a verified US-registered non profit. If you are able, click here to donate.

www.witnessagainsttorture.com

Witness Against Torture formed in 2005 when 25 Americans went to Guantánamo Bay and attempted to visit the detention facility. They began to organize more broadly to shut down Guantánamo, end indefinite detention and torture and call out Islamophobia. During our demonstrations, we lift up the words of the detainees themselves, bringing them to public spaces they are not permitted to access. Witness Against Torture will carry on in its activities until torture is decisively ended, its victims are fully acknowledged, Guantánamo and similar facilities are closed, and those who ordered and committed torture are held to account.

 

 

 

 

 

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#foreverhumanbeings: A Campaign to Close Guantánamo

In Focus - Front Page // Film

Are we going to pretend they’re less than men and walk away?

– Luke Nephew (Peace Poet), “There is a Man Under the Hood”

Forty-one human beings remain incarcerated in the prison at Guantánamo.  All potentially face lifetimes of detention.  Five have been cleared for release by the US government itself.  But they were still in Guantánamo when Trump took office, and Trump has halted all transfers from the prison.

Many more are “forever prisoners,” who have not been charged with crimes, and never will be.  A small handful of men are facing charges in the illegitimate and unworkable Military Commissions.  If convicted, they could receive lengthy sentences, likely served at Guantánamo, or even the death penalty.

Guantánamo has always been a place of torture and the violation of human rights.  It must close, no matter who is president.  President Obama failed in his pledge to shutter the prison. Trump has threatened to bring new captives there. The thought of Trump — whose reckless disregard for the US Constitution is every day revealed — having Guantánamo as his private, offshore gulag is terrifying. Any day, we could learn that the Trump administration has sent a new captive to Guantánamo.

The continued existence of Guantánamo also feeds a resurgent Islamophobia and politics of fear and hate, typified by Trump’s unconstitutional “Muslim travel ban.”  Guantánamo never housed simply the “worst of the worst” terrorists, as the Bush administration claimed.  The vast majority of men held there never engaged in hostilities against the United States.  By staying open, Guantánamo reinforces the terrible lie that all Muslims are dangerous, to be feared or even cut out of American life. To work to close Guantánamo is to support tolerance, pluralism, and respect for the rule of law.

Witness Against Torture is launching on Friday May 26: #foreverhumanbeings – A Campaign to Close Guantánamo. For a period of 41 days, spanning the holy month of Ramadan and beyond, the campaign will bring awareness to the fate of each of the 41 men detained in Guantanamo Bay Prison, coordinate public action aimed at closing Guantánamo, and draw links between Guantánamo, institutionalized Islamophobia, all forms of racism, and abuses in the US criminal justice and prison systems

The Witness Against Torture campaign will include:

~ an international and interfaith “rolling fast” throughout the campaign’s 41 days. Fasters are encouraged to incorporate concern for the abuse of men in Guantánamo during their day. If you are observing Ramadan, you may leave an empty seat at the dinner table in remembrance of the men who are in Guantánamo rather than at home with their families, during Iftar. Sign up for the Rolling Fast here. More details to come

~ phone calls, emails, and letter to relevant governmental and military offices

~ scheduled blogposts on such topics as Islamophobia, the current situation at Guantánamo, religious objections to torture, and the use of Communication Management Units (CMU) in “war on terror” detentions

~ daily profiles on social media of each of the 41 detained men

~ participation on June 23 in the Annual Vigil at the White House organized by the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC), in Lafayette Square from 1-2PM (more information here)

~ the creation and distribution of art addressing Guantánamo, torture, and the US prisons

Please join us in remembering the men locked away, now forever, at Guantánamo and working to close the prison!

www.witnessagainsttorture.com

#foreverhumanbeings

#41menatGitmo

Witness Against Torture formed in 2005 when 25 Americans went to Guantánamo Bay and attempted to visit the detention facility. They began to organize more broadly to shut down Guantánamo, end indefinite detention and torture and call out Islamophobia. During our demonstrations, we lift up the words of the detainees themselves, bringing them to public spaces they are not permitted to access. Witness Against Torture will carry on in its activities until torture is decisively ended, its victims are fully acknowledged, Guantánamo and similar facilities are closed, and those who ordered and committed torture are held to account.

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Fast for Justice Day 1: Forgiveness Demands Accountability

Fast for Justice 2017 // Film

 

Mohamed Ould Slahi left Guantanamo on October 17, 2016 after fourteen years of imprisonment there. He was held without charge and tortured.

Speaking of the torture, isolation, and loss he endured, he nevertheless forgives his captors. He says forgiveness is his inexhaustible resource. He maintains belief in the potential goodness of U.S. people.

Witness Against Torture began our first full day of fasting this morning by listening to Slahi’s words and then hearing an op-ed that appeared in the morning’s New York Times. The op-ed quotes President-elect Donald Trump who says that Guantanamo should be kept open. In February, 2016, while campaigning in Nevada he promised that “we’re gonna load it up with some bad dudes.”

Slahi, in this video, says: “I have no doubt that the good U.S. people will realize that holding innocent people in prison is not the way to go and will work for their release until every last innocent detainee has joined his family. I wholeheartedly forgive everyone who wronged me during my detention and I forgive because forgiveness is my inexhaustible resource.”

Forgiveness demands accountability from U.S. people. Slahi’s forgiveness places responsibility on our shoulders to carry on our activities until torture is decisively ended, its victims are fully acknowledged, Guantánamo and similar facilities are closed, and those who ordered and committed torture are held to account. Slahi hasn’t said: forgive and forget

Today we began planning dramatic actions to remember the men who have died, those who are still detained and those who have been released and continue suffering from the trauma of their detention.

Through large and small group reflections, we are getting to know our neighbors and build community.


Four Men will be released from Guantanamo Bay to Saudi Arabia

We celebrate the news that The United States will transfer four men to Saudi Arabia in the next 24 hours. We have heard that President Barack Obama will make a final push to shrink the inmate population before Trump takes office. Click here to read the story.

Witness Against Torture on Social Media

Please “like” us on Facebook & follow us on Twitter & Instagram.
Check out our latest news and updates on Tumblr.
Post any pictures of your local activities to our flickr account and we will help spread the word.

Donate to support our work

Witness Against Torture is completely volunteer driven and run. We have no paid staff, but do have expenses associated with our organizing work. We need your financial support. We are fiscally sponsored by the Washington Peace Center. The Washington Peace Center is a verified US-registered non profit.If you are able, click here to donate:

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Witness Against Torture’s Fast for Justice Begins

Fast for Justice 2017 // Film

 

Dear Friends,

Witness Against Torture is once again gathering in Washington D.C to Fast for Justice. The first car loads of people have arrived. The first actions are being crafted and our last meal has been consumed.  Every year, we come from around the country to reflect and take action. We center our work together by remembering the muslim men that remain in Guantanamo. Most of them have never been charged with any crime. For the next 8 days, our lives are intertwined together in this basement hostel, where we will create a resistance community, we will build a shared analysis, and we will fast.

We will fast in solidarity with the 59 muslim men that remain in Guantanamo.    

We will fast to resist white supremacy, racism, islamophobia, and fear of our neighbor.

We will fast to denounce state violence.

We will fast to remain human in a culture that dehumanizes our communities.

We know that human rights face a new danger: Donald Trump. His racist and islamophobic rhetoric threatens us all. He has said he wants to torture. He has vowed to keep Guantanamo open. Just yesterday, Donald Trump reminded the world he will not release anyone.

This year, we are fasting and building together to strengthen our resistance for the years to come. We  invite you to join us in this work.  

We are fasting until January 11th. We are engaging in creative direct action. You can come to DC or you can participate from home. Just send us an email and let us know your plans: witnesstorture@gmail.com

If you want to receive the daily fasting updates, please let us know by emailing witnesstorture@gmail.com

Schedule for January 8th to the 12th:

Click here to see Full Fast Schedule

Join us next week for these larger events in DC:

Breathing Fire: A Teach-In on Teargas in Prison

Sunday, January 8th, 6 to 8pm:

Location: First Trinity Lutheran Church
501 4th St NW, (entrance on 4th Street)
Washington DC 20001 (4th and E Sts. NW)
(Judiciary Square Metro)

This Teach-In will include:
1. What is tear gas? Who makes it? Who uses it? Why is it banned?
2. Who does teargas impact? Activity with testimonies of being gassed in prison, in protest and around the world?
3. Facing Teargas in Prison: The letters from the inside, the petition of 13K, what we are gonna do at the Department of Justice the next day
4. Prison Militarization: what does that even mean?

Words From the Grassroots: Strengthening Our Resistance to State Violence

Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Location  801 22nd Street NW
Gallery 102, Smith Hall of Art
Washington, DC 20052

Join the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture, and the Tea Project for a night of tea, art, poetry, music, and words by artists, activists, and leaders in the movements to end state violence from indefinite detention at Guantánamo, police murders, and institutionalized Islamophobia. Speakers will share stories of hope and lessons from the front lines of their work, while speaking to the ways we need to change our resistance to confront the incoming Trump administration.

January 11th Rally:

No More Guantanamo. No Torture Presidency.  No Indefinite Detention

Join Witness Against Torture and our coalition partners on January 11th in Washington DC. for our annual rally to close Guantanamo!

Location: White House Ellipse
12 noon: Music
12:30: Rally
1:30: March to Department of Justice.

Witness Against Torture on Social Media

Please “like” us on Facebook & follow us on Twitter & Instagram.
Check out our latest news and updates on Tumblr.
Post any pictures of your local activities to our flickr account and we will help spread the word.

Donate to support our work

Witness Against Torture is completely volunteer driven and run. We have no paid staff, but do have expenses associated with our organizing work. We need your financial support. We are fiscally sponsored by the Washington Peace Center. The Washington Peace Center is a verified US-registered non profit.If you are able, click here to donate:

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Fast for Justice Schedule January 2017

Fast for Justice 2017 // Film

FAST FOR JUSTICE 2017
Daily Schedule (Draft, Our schedule will change throughout the week.)

All activities are happening at First Trinity Lutheran Church unless otherwise mentioned.

First Trinity Lutheran Church
501 4th St NW, (entrance on 4th Street)
Washington DC 20001 (4th and E Sts. NW)
(Judiciary Square Metro)

Tuesday, January 3rd:
3:00pm – 9:00pm: People are free to arrive anytime after 3:00pm
6:00pm: Opening Circle
8:00pm: Community Dinner (final meal together until Jan. 11th)

Wednesday, January 4th
7:30am – 8:30am: Morning Readings (optional)
9:00am – 11:00am: Morning Reflection/Overview of Guiding Questions
12:00pm – 2:00pm: Large Group Gathering (introductions, schedule, teams, 
2:30pm – 4:30pm: Team Meetings
7:00pm – 9:00pm: Evening Reflection

Thursday, January 5th
7:30am – 8:30am: Morning Readings (optional)
9:00am – 11:00am: Morning Reflection / Overview of the day 
12:00pm – 2:00pm Team Meeting
5:30pm – 6:30pm Collective Liberation Small Group Meeting
7:00pm – 9:00pm Evening Reflection

Friday, January 6th
7:30am – 8:30am: Morning Readings (optional)
8:00am – 8:30am Scarfing the Streets with Pastor Susanne (optional)
9:00am -11:00am: Morning Reflection /Overview of the day/Guiding Question #2
12:00pm -1:00pm: Vigil @ the White House with Dorothy Day Community
2:00pm – 4:00pm: Team Meetings
5:30pm – 6:30pm:Collective Liberation Small Group Meeting
7:00pm – 9:00pm:Evening Reflection

Saturday, January 7th
7:30am – 8:30am: Morning Readings (optional)
9:00am – 9:30am: Morning Reflection / Overview of the day
10:00am – 12:00pm: Large Group Gathering facilitated –
4:00pm -7:00pm: Community building with Coalition of Concerned Mothers

Sunday, January 8th
7:30am – 8:30am: Morning Readings (optional)
9:00am – 11:00am: Morning Reflection 
11:30am – 1:00pm   Team Meetings
2:00pm – 4:00pm    Set Up Ritual with the Tea Project 

Gallery 102
Smith Hall of Art, Department of Fine Arts and Art History
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW,  Washington, D.C. 20052
         

6:00pm – 8:00pm:  Gathering with War Resisters League about the Campaign to End Tear Gas in Prison

Monday, January 9th
6:15am: Leave for Pentagon
7:00am – 8:00am:: Vigil @ the Pentagon with Dorothy Day Community
10:30am – 12:30pm Team Meetings
1:30pm – ? Action with War Resisters League at DOJ
5:30pm – 6:30pm Collective Liberation Small Group Meeting
7:00pm – 9:00pm:     Evening Reflection

Tuesday, January 10th
7:30am – 8:30am Morning Readings (optional)
9:00am – 11:00am Morning Reflection/Overview of the Day/Guiding Question #4
12:00pm – 2:00pm Team Meetings
5:30pm – 6:30pm Collective Liberation Small Group Meeting
7:00pm – 9:00pm: Words from the Grassroots: Strengthening our Resistance to  State Violence 

Join the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture, and the Tea Project for a night of tea, art, poetry, music, and words by artists, activists, and leaders in the movements to end state violence from indefinite detention at Guantánamo, police murders, and institutionalized Islamophobia. Speakers will share stories of hope and lessons from the front lines of their work, while speaking to the ways we need to change our resistance to confront the incoming Trump administration.

Location: 801 22nd Street NW
    Gallery 102, Smith Hall of Art
    Washington, DC 20052

 

Doors open at 6:30 PM and the program will begin at 7:00 PM. The event is free and open to the public. Tea will be served throughout the evening.

Wednesday, January 11th
7:30am – 8:30am Morning Readings (optional)
9:30am -11:30am Breaking the Fast with Tea Project at GWU
11:30pm Close Guantanamo Now January 11th Coalition Event at the Supreme Court
7:00pm – 9:00pm Evening Reflection

Thursday, January 12
7:30am – 8:30am: Morning Readings (optional)
9:00am -11:00am: Assessment of the week/ Dates for Spring Retreat  
12:00pm       Lunch

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January 11th: Call to Action

In Focus - Front Page // Film

No More Guantánamo. No Torture Presidency.  No Indefinite Detention

Join Witness Against Torture and our coalition partners on January 11th in Washington DC. for our annual rally to close Guantanamo!

Location: Supreme Court
11:30: Rally
12:15: March around Senate Buildings.

President Obama has failed in his pledge of eight years ago to close the US detention camp at Guantánamo.  Congressional obstacles, misinformation perpetuated in the media, and the president’s own lack of will are all responsible for this policy disaster.  Guantánamo remains a living symbol of US torture and other human rights abuses, and a place of misery for the 59 men it still houses.  Most of them have never been charged with, let alone tried for, any crime.

In the remaining weeks before he leaves office, President Obama must do what he still can: expedite the release of cleared men and release the full 2014 Senate Torture Report documenting CIA abuses.

Human rights and the United States’ standing in the world face a new danger:  the possibility that President-elect Donald Trump will reinstate the use of torture.  He has also called for increasing the prison population at Guantánamo.

Statements by Mr. Trump and members of his incoming administration to moderate his past positions offer little assurance that a Trump presidency will reject torture and respect the rule of law.  Trump’s blatantly Islamophobic campaign stokes fear of a new era of religious discrimination and other abuses of civil and human rights.

Human rights activists are gathering in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2017 to mark 15 years since the prison at Guantánamo opened.  We come to state, in one loud voice, to President-elect Trump:

Torture, discrimination, and indefinite detention are wrong.  There are no exceptions.  Any attempt to bring back torture or to send new people to Guantánamo will be strongly opposed in the United States and throughout the world.  Any effort to persecute Muslims – or any other religious, racial, or ethnic group – through special immigration or surveillance measures is unacceptable.

Mr. Trump must:

  • *make clear the absolute rejection of torture, as banned by US and international law
  • *continue handling domestic terrorism suspects within the civilian criminal justice system and in accord with the US Constitution
  • *continue the policy of transferring men from Guantánamo and work toward the closure of the prison, with its steep moral and financial cost to the United States

We hope Trump will listen to those at all levels of the US government and those around the world who reject torture and want to end the blight of Guantánamo.  We also have no illusions about the role that human rights violations and the persecution of Muslims could play in a Trump presidency.  More than ever, our vigilance is required.

We also stand together with a plea to the public — to those who have been part of longstanding efforts to oppose torture and close Guantánamo, as well as those new to this cause. We must hold the next administration accountable to the US Constitution, to human rights standards, and to the common-sense decency that guides us.

Please join us for a rally and march to close Guantánamo and end torture and indefinite detention.  We will gather at the Supreme Court at 11:30 am on January 11 for a rally and then at 12:15 we will begin a march to the Senate buildings.

Sponsors: Amnesty International USA, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Center for Constitutional Rights, CloseGuantánamo.org, Code Pink, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Defending Dissent Foundation, Ray McGovern with Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, No More Guantánamos, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the Torture Abolition and Survivor and Support Coalition, Veterans for Peace, We Stand with Shaker, Witness Against Torture, Women Against Military Madness, World Can’t Wait, and others.

 

 

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Take Action: Call your senators today to denounce torture

In Focus - Front Page // Film

Witness Against Torture is concerned to learn that Donald Trump is already making cabinet picks who are willing to support his campaign calls for “waterboarding and much worse.”  Mike Pompeo, his nominee for CIA director, is an open torture supporter, who responded to the Senate intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report by calling CIA participants in the torture program “heroes.” Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions has opposed past anti-torture legislation.  National Security Advisor nominee Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn when questioned about waterboarding during the campaign answered that he believes in leaving as many options as possible “on the table right up until the last minute.”

Senator John McCain, however, spoke out against torture at a Nov. 19 conference, saying, “I don’t give a damn what the President of the United States wants to do, we will not waterboard. We will not torture. We will not torture people, and sometime I hope we can get David Petraeus up to this forum. He’s one of the great military leaders. He’ll tell you it doesn’t work. My friends, it doesn’t work. If you inflict pain on somebody long enough, they’re going to tell you whatever they think you want to hear to have it stopped.”

WAT is delivering a letter to Sen. McCain on Monday to support his stance on torture, offer WAT’s perspective on torture at Guantanamo, and ask him to continue to speak loudly in favor of a zero-tolerance stance against torture.  Click here to read the letter.

WAT is VERY concerned about what the president-elect intends to do.  JOIN WAT TODAY in calling and writing Senator McCain and your own senators. Demand that your senators join Sen. McCain to oppose this new administration’s stated intentions to “bring back waterboarding” and other forms of torture.  Ask them to question Cabinet nominees about their views on torture and oppose nominees who support torture.  Thank Senator McCain for his recent refusal to accept Trump’s plan to return to illegal treatment of U.S. captives and tell him to never back down.

US Capitol Switchboard:  (202) 224-3121

To support your advocacy, we offer links to the following WAT statements:

In this critical transition to the Trump administration, we repeat the call we made earlier this year:

We remind ourselves that Islamophobia is dangerous.  It is at the foundation of Guantanamo Bay Prison’s existence and the fuel that carries the violence we see today.  We continue to offer our love and support to our Muslim sisters and brothers who will be targeted by violence fostered by hate speech.  The work to dismantle racism and xenophobia should be our call.

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Join us in DC this January

Fast for Justice 2017 // Film

Please note:  RSVP is required – email us: witnesstorture@gmail.com

Fast for Justice Schedule

Jan. 11 Rally info

WE FAST BECAUSE YOU HUNGER STRIKE. WE STRUGGLE UNTIL YOU LIVE FREE

We come together not only to call for the closure of Guantanamo and its legacy of institutionalizing Islamophobia, but also to invite our government and fellow citizens to choose the side of love, mercy and justice.

We demand an end to policies that maintain racism, mass incarceration, and fear of our neighbors. We come together to envision the world we want to live in where justice and equality reign.

We hope you will join us for a week of actions and fasting from January 3-12, 2017 in Washington, DC and our presence at the presidential inauguration January 19-21.

We will start fasting from the evening of Jan. 3rd and break our fast on January 11 in the morning. If you cannot make it to DC, but are considering fasting during this time – let us know. We will organize a conference call for everyone fasting across the country and we want to include you.

If you can only come for one day, join us for the rally with our coalition partners on January 11th.  Location is TBD. We will also engage in creative actions around DC between Jan. 4-12 – contact us if you are interested in participating.

Jan 10 we will host a cultural event in collaboration with the Tea Project – more details coming soon.

We also invite you to join us from afar, to participate in our solidarity actions and to organize actions in your own communities to raise awareness of torture and indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay.

January 8 – Workshop on tear gas use in prisons with War Resisters League – https://www.facebook.com/events/226640994413157/

January 9 Action with War Resister League : https://www.facebook.com/events/210198856106456/

You can join us for our annual rally on January 11 at noon at the Ellipse. More information here : https://www.facebook.com/events/1818873991715572/

Jan 10 we will host a cultural event in collaboration with the Tea Project – Space is limited so please RSVP here : https://ccrjustice.org/wordsfromthegrassroots#.

For more info and to RSVP, email us: witnesstorture@gmail.com.

The latest updates are on our Facebook event page.

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WAT Workshop Presentation at the October 2016 SOAW Convergence on the Border

Uncategorized // Film

 

Earlier this  month Witness Against Torture members traveled to the US-Mexico border in Arizona to attend the SOAW Convergence on the Border protesting border militarization, as well as the criminalization of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and people of color.  Maha Hilal, Paula Miller, and Helen Schietinger presented a workshop at the convergence.  Helen reports below.

WAT Workshop Presentation at the October 2016 SOAW Convergence on the Border:  What connects the Eloy Detention Center, Rikers Island, Guantanamo Prison and Communication Management Units? (Hint: think racism and state violence.)

Presented by Maha Hilal, Paula Miller, and Helen Schietinger
Reported by Helen Schietinger

The Plan:

We had a great workshop planned: we would begin by spending five minutes on each of four types of detention institutions:

  • Paula would use her five minutes to describe immigration detention centers and present the story of a person imprisoned in one.
  • Helen would describe Guantanamo prison and show a short video of WAT members reading the words of Tariq Ba Odah.
  • Maha would explain Communication Management Units and read the words of a Muslim person doomed to being in one.
  • Helen would describe U.S. prisons and show a video of the words of Kalief Broder, who committed suicide after being imprisoned and horribly abused at Rikers Island.

We would follow these brief spotlights with a discussion of what these institutions have in common and what state objectives they achieve through racism and violence.  The conclusion would be a video of the Peace Poets performing Mental Slavery.

The Real Thing:

Even though the video equipment ended up not working and we were competing with other intriguing workshops and the interfaith service at the border, lots of people came and they appreciated what we had to offer.  I ended by playing Mental Slavery on my laptop since the AV equipment didn’t work, wondering if the audience could hear well enough, and if so, whether the strong language in the poem would offend anyone, but most folks were rapt.

We continued to get positive feedback from people for the next two days. WAT’s instinct to connect the dots between the different forms of U.S. detention and torture is a good one. Many participants, passionately committed to opposing one form of detention abuse or torture, had no idea of the extent of human rights abuses in other institutions.  Nobody had even heard of CMU’s.  Our work to build bridges and provide education among our diverse communities is as important as ever.

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