#foreverhumanbeings: A Campaign to Close Guantánamo
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!
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.