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