June 25-30, 2014 Annual June Survivors’ Week Report-back

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June 27, 2014 / Weekly Dorothy Day Vigil / Source Flickr
June 27, 2014 / Weekly Dorothy Day Vigil / Source Flickr

Dear Friends, Last week, members of Witness Against Torture gathered in Washington, D.C. for the International Day in Support of Survivors of Torture. Our group of about fifteen attended a panel organized by National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) on Thursday on U.S. sanctioned torture, engaged in nonviolent direct action at Senator Ayotte and McCain’s offices, and participated in an all-day vigil with Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition(TASSC). On Sunday, we retreated to the Peace Oasis to put in motion a framework for January 11, 2015.

During our opening session on Thursday, we found our energy drawn to the Cotton amendment that passed in the House of Representatives and similar efforts to keep Guantanamo open by Kelly Ayotte in the Senate. These bills would make transfers from Guantanamo virtually impossible and continue to senselessly criminalize the men detained without charge at the prison. Furthermore, we decried McCain’s tweet about shipping the newest Benghazi Attack suspect to Guantanamo. Jeremy V. wrote a letter to each senator expressing our concerns.

On Friday morning, we took these letters to the Senate Russell Building, wearing our orange jumpsuits and joined by some new friends from Australia and Philadelphia, to visit the offices of Senators Ayotte and McCain. Our striking procession made its way to the second floor offices. Those of us in jumpsuits flanked each side of Senator Ayotte’s office doorway with our black hoods on while Jeremy and Chris K. entered the room to speak with an aide there. The interaction was courteous and we then processed to McCain’s office, where we repeated our tableau and added two banners: “Not One Step Back, Close Guantanamo” and “Release Those Unjustly Bound”. They received us dismissively and we proceeded to read our statement aloud in front of his office.

Jeremy spoke eloquently as to our presence in the hallway and Jerica A. led us in an invigorating version of the Civil Rights Movement Song “Keep your Eyes on the Prize.” Jeremy created a new verse for the occasion: “No Senate bill can break our will. We won’t be turned around!” When we started processing towards our exit, a police officer told us our singing was disrupting “important work” so we decided to hum the rest of the way out.

We then headed to the White House for the Friday vigil that the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker holds weekly. Despite the heat, we spoke to the passersby of the injustices of forced-feeding and indefinite detention and shared the stories of Adnan Latif and Yemeni Guantanamo hunger striker Emad Hassan.

Many listened, took flyers and asked us questions. In the end, we decided that we were not naïve to think our letters would turn the tide, but we felt it was important to put forward an appeal to these Senators. The men in Guantanamo do not have the opportunity to walk these hallways and plead their case in person. We will continue to amplify their voices on the hill and in public spaces until they are released and Guantanamo is shut down.

We invite you to view and share the pictures and video we took of our action together, as well as the letters we wrote to Senators McCain and Ayotte. Please call and write Senator Ayotte and Senator McCain and to your representatives about these issues. We must continue to voice our dissent and ask for the men’s release. They have suffered and must be released now.

Extended video:

 

SAVE THE DATE– January 5– 13, 2015

Witness Against Torture Fast for Justice and Week of Actions in Washington, DC. Details to be announced this Fall. FRIDAY FAST FOR JUSTICE: We invite you to join us in taking action and fasting on Fridays. For more information, visit witnesstorture.org or email witnesstorture@gmail.com

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US Hunger Strikers and Human Rights Activists Rally on Wednesday, June 26

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Washington, D.C. – Weeks past President Obama’s speech announcing his renewed intention to close Guantanamo, human rights activists — including three US military veterans on open-ended fasts in solidarity with hunger striking Guantanamo detainees — will stage dramatic protests on Wednesday, June 26th at the White House calling on the President to turn his promise into action.

140 days into the hunger strike at Guantánamo, members of Witness Against Torture and other groups will lay 86 black cloths, each with the name of a Guantánamo prisoner cleared for transfer, on the sidewalk of the White House to dramatize the demand that the President begin transferring men from the prison facility.

In response to the hunger strike of Guantánamo detainees, several US citizens have for weeks been on open-ended fasts, suffering the health effects of sustained hunger. They hope with their immense sacrifice to draw attention to the plight of the Guantánamo detainees and force the President to act.

“What is happening in Guantánamo is despicable,” says Elliott Adams, a former paratrooper in Vietnam on hunger strike since May 17. “The continued detention of innocent men is a violation of our moral and religious principles, domestic and international law. It goes against the values I thought the American flag stood for when I was a young man in the Army. I just can’t sit and enjoy my life when my country is doing such terrible things.”

Diane Wilson, a former Army medic and fourth-generation shrimp boat captain from Texas who has lost 50 pounds in over 56 days, says, “I know who this American fisherwoman is and where I stand. I stand in solidarity with the Guantánamo prisoners and I will fast indefinitely until justice for them comes.”

Veterans For Peace national board member Tarak Kauff, on hunger strike since June 8, says, “It is up to human beings of conscience to take the risks, step out of our comfort zones and do our utmost to end the nightmare of Guantánamo. If we do not act now, our children and their children will reap the bitter results of our cowardice: an America without basic rights and a world without justice.”

The US hunger strikers amplify the “rolling fast,” organized by Witness Against Torture, in which hundreds of United States citizens have fasted in support of the hunger strikers at Guantánamo.

“It should not take people denying themselves food, whether in Guantánamo or in the US, to have President Obama stand up for the Constitution and human rights,” says Matt Daloisio, organizer with Witness Against Torture. “The renewed promise to close Guantánamo is important, but without immediate steps to release people, it is only another promise.”

What: Protest to Close Guantánamo on the UN International Day for Survivors of Torture
Who: US hunger strikers, Witness Against Torture, and other activists.
Where: The White House
When: Wednesday, June 26; Rally and speeches at the White House at noon.

Information on the protest and profiles of the hunger strikers are available at www.closegitmo.net

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Starving for Justice: US Hunger Strikers and Human Rights Activists Rally on Wednesday, June 26 at White House to Demand Closure of Guantánamo Prison Camp

Press Releases // Film

Washington, D.C. – Weeks past President Obama’s speech announcing his renewed intention to close Guantanamo, human rights activists — including three US military veterans on open-ended fasts in solidarity with hunger striking Guantanamo detainees — will stage dramatic protests on Wednesday, June 26th at the White House calling on the President to turn his promise into action.

140 days into the hunger strike at Guantánamo, members of Witness Against Torture and other groups will lay 86 black cloths, each with the name of a Guantánamo prisoner cleared for transfer, on the sidewalk of the White House to dramatize the demand that the President begin transferring men from the prison facility.

In response to the hunger strike of Guantánamo detainees, several US citizens have for weeks been on open-ended fasts, suffering the health effects of sustained hunger. They hope with their immense sacrifice to draw attention to the plight of the Guantánamo detainees and force the President to act.

“What is happening in Guantánamo is despicable,” says Elliott Adams, a former paratrooper in Vietnam on hunger strike since May 17. “The continued detention of innocent men is a violation of our moral and religious principles, domestic and international law. It goes against the values I thought the American flag stood for when I was a young man in the Army. I just can’t sit and enjoy my life when my country is doing such terrible things.”

Diane Wilson, a former Army medic and fourth-generation shrimp boat captain from Texas who has lost 50 pounds in over 56 days, says, “I know who this American fisherwoman is and where I stand. I stand in solidarity with the Guantánamo prisoners and I will fast indefinitely until justice for them comes.”

Veterans For Peace national board member Tarak Kauff, on hunger strike since June 8, says, “It is up to human beings of conscience to take the risks, step out of our comfort zones and do our utmost to end the nightmare of Guantánamo. If we do not act now, our children and their children will reap the bitter results of our cowardice: an America without basic rights and a world without justice.”

The US hunger strikers amplify the “rolling fast,” organized by Witness Against Torture, in which hundreds of United States citizens have fasted in support of the hunger strikers at Guantánamo.

“It should not take people denying themselves food, whether in Guantánamo or in the US, to have President Obama stand up for the Constitution and human rights,” says Matt Daloisio, organizer with Witness Against Torture. “The renewed promise to close Guantánamo is important, but without immediate steps to release people, it is only another promise.”

What: Protest to Close Guantánamo on the UN International Day for Survivors of Torture
Who: US hunger strikers, Witness Against Torture, and other activists.
Where: The White House
When: Wednesday, June 26; Rally and speeches at the White House at noon.

Information on the protest and profiles of the hunger strikers are available at www.closegitmo.net

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Hunger Strike – Emergency Response

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We will gather for action in New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Des Moines, Western Massachusetts, and other cities domestically and internationally next week to denounce the barbaric practice of torture and indefinite detention and to demand justice for the men at Guantanamo.
Continue reading Hunger Strike – Emergency Response

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Wednesday, March 20th, 6:30 pm – Vigil for Detainees

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Wednesday, March 20th, 6:30 pm – Vigil for the Guantanamo Detainees – on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war this week, we will gather at The White House to pray, remember and speak for our Muslim brothers in Guantanamo, many of whom have been cleared for release but have still not been released due to restrictions our government has subsequently placed on where they can be released and under what conditions. A number of them, having little hope left, are currently undertaking a hunger strike at Guantanamo. (see news articles below)

We will meet in front of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Please join us if you can.
Sponsored by Witness Against Torture.

Contact: Malachy Kilbride via email or phone: 571-501-3729

Statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights

Guantanamo Hunger Strike “Potentially Life-Threatening,” Attorneys Allege in Letter to Prison Officials

Gitmo Hunger Strike: ‘Prisoners put their lives on the line in a medieval torture chamber’

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Resisting Hell on Earth: Hunger Strike at Guantánamo

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The facts are stark. More than 100 men on a new hunger strike at Guantánamo, now in its fifth week.

The context is heartbreaking. More than half of the 166 men at Guantánamo have been “Cleared for Release” by U.S. authorities. Not charged with any crime of terrorism or violence, they linger in the prison because of the Obama administration’s and Congress’s callous disregard for their basic legal and human rights.   All inmates at Guantánamo — subjected to routine indignities and abuses — are waiting for real justice: their release when innocent or the chance to plead their case in a legitimate court of law.
Continue reading Resisting Hell on Earth: Hunger Strike at Guantánamo

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4 Things We Can Do in 2013 to Close Guantánamo

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2013 has been a busy year at Amnesty already. From protesting torture at the Washington, DC premiere of the film Zero Dark Thirty to people across the US and around the world spending January 11 (the 11th anniversary of “war on terror” detainees arriving at Guantanamo) marching against the continued human rights violations being committed by the US government, we have some real momentum to start the new year.

We still don’t have the outcome we all want — President Obama hasn’t ended human rights violations and hasn’t kept his long-standing promise to close Guantanamo prison. But we are making progress. We know it will be a long fight, but history shows that change can happen through sustained activism. Just last week the infamous Tamms “supermax” prison in Illinois closed after years of campaigning. Guantanamo will be next!

We can’t do it without you. Here are 4 things we can do to close Guantanamo and promote human rights in 2013.

Read the full article on Amnesty International’s web site.

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