WAT responds to Trump’s executive order on Guantanamo

In Focus - Front Page // Film

It was with heavy hearts that we, as members of Witness Against Torture, listened to Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening. We heard him attempt to stoke fear in his listeners with wave after wave of references to terrorists and criminals. He began by linking terror to “illegal immigrants,” border walls, “chain migration,” and visa lotteries, before moving on to ISIS, Al Qaida, rogue regimes, unlawful enemy combatants and more.

By the time he mentioned the prison at Guantanamo, he had already clearly connected the foreigner and the immigrant with the idea of danger in his listeners’ minds. He had already skillfully set the stage when he announced his executive order to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay. In Guantanamo, he reassured his listeners, we would “have all necessary power to detain terrorists — wherever we chase them down.”

The prison at Guantanamo has always depended for its existence on xenophobic fear, fueled by racism and Islamophobia. Stoking this fear helps leaders aggrandize their power, as the history of authoritarian regimes has amply demonstrated.

Witness Against Torture from its founding has sought to counter this hatred by recognizing the human dignity of each prisoner, beginning with our attempt to visit the prisoners in 2005, to fast in solidarity with their hunger strikes, and to lift their names, faces, and stories in the public eye and before the seats of power in Washington year after year. We have spoken up relentlessly for the right of every detainee to trial or release.

We continue to stand against the horror of the torture these men have suffered. We regard as an ominous warning Trump’s stated resolve to bring more “unlawful enemy combatants” to Guantanamo where “they should be treated like the terrorists they are.”

And so we resolutely continue. We turn our eyes with hope to the major legal challenge to Donald Trump’s continued detention of the men at Guantanamo, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Reprieve, and co-counsel on the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison. We are deeply grateful to our friends and allies who continue to plan rallies and actions in support of closing the prison.


New Yorkers gather to protest Trump’s Guantanamo policy

On Thursday, Feb. 1, human rights activists from Witness Against Torture, the Justice for Muslims Collective, World Can’t Wait, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups gathered at Grand Central Station to protest Trump’s recent Executive Order on Guantanamo. Announced in the State of the Union address, the Order directs that the detention camp remain open, reversing the policy of President Obama to try to close the prison.

The camp at Guantanamo has been a place of torture and other gross human rights abuses. It continues to imprison 41 men — including 26 held without charge or trial and 5 whom the US government had already cleared for release. Trump’s policy also freezes any releases from the prison and orders that new captives can be brought there.

Guantanamo remains a blight on the US Constitution, the rule of law and basic democratic values. Trump’s policy, as challenged in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, is based in his well-documented racism and Islamophobia.

“Trump’s Executive Order brings us back to the darkest days of the Bush administration, when lawlessness and cruelty ruled,” says Jeremy Varon, an organizer with Witness Against Torture from Brooklyn. “President Trump is an anti-Muslim bigot, pro-torture, and favors keeping a torture prison open forever,” says Maha Hilal of the Justice for Muslims Collective. “With the Guantanamo policy, New Yorkers and the peoples of the world now have another reason to loathe this terrible leader.”

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Human Rights Activists to Protest Trump’s Order to Keep Guantanamo Open

In Focus - Front Page // Film

For immediate release

Contacts:
Jeremy Varon 732-979-3119 jvaron@aol.com
Elizabeth Ramos 347-581-2677 nyc@worldcantwait.net

Human Rights Activists to Protest Trump’s Order to Keep Guantanamo Open in Grand Central Station, Thursday 2/1 @ Noon

What: Demonstration/vigil to Protest Trump’s Guantanamo Policy
Where: Main Terminal, Grand Central Terminal
When: Noon, Thursday, February 1

Human rights activists from Witness Against Torture, the Justice for Muslims Collective, World Can’t Wait, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups will gather at noon on Thursday, February 1 at the Main Terminal in Grand Central Station to protest Trump’s recent Executive Order on Guantanamo. Announced in the State of the Union address, the Order directs that the detention camp remain open, reversing the policy of President Obama to try to close the prison.

Demonstrators will hold a solemn vigil, with some people in orange jumpsuits and black hoods and others holding signs condemning Trump’s policy.

The camp at Guantanamo has been a place of torture and other gross human rights abuses. It continues to imprison 41 men — including 26 held without charge or trial and 5 whom the US government had already cleared for release. Trump’s policy also freezes any releases from the prison and orders that new captives can be brought there.

Guantanamo remains a blight on the US Constitution, the rule of law and basic democratic values. Trump’s policy, as challenged in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, is based in his well-documented racism and Islamophobia.

“Trump’s Executive Order brings us back to the darkest days of the Bush administration, when lawlessness and cruelty ruled,” says Jeremy Varon, an organizer with Witness Against Torture from Brooklyn. “President Trump is an anti-Muslim bigot, pro-torture, and favors keeping a torture prison open forever,” says Maha Hilal of the Justice for Muslims Collective. “With the Guantanamo policy, New Yorkers and the peoples of the world now have another reason to loathe this terrible leader.”

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Day 4,5 Update – 16 years of Guantanamo

Fast for Justice 2018 // Film

January 11-12, 2018

Rally and Action marking 16 years of Guantanamo
“Forty-one hearts still beat in Guantanamo prison cells. That’s forty-one too many,” writes Kathy Kelly in The Progressive on January 11th, the 16th anniversary of the prison.

Marking that sad anniversary, we gathered once again along with 15 coalition organizations for a rally at the White House to call for the closure of Guantanamo and an end to torture and Islamophobia.  Read Witness Against Torture’s press release about the rally and arrests that followed.  For photos from the rally and WAT action, please see our Flickr page.  AJ+ did an excellent, short video about the event.

WAT member Mike Fiala writes about the action and arrests and reflects on the ritual we incorporated.  Following his reflection is another written by Lu Aya Nephew.


 

J11 Action Reflection:  A cup of tea
by Mike Fiala

It moves fast here with Witness against Torture, though not our fast from food – that languishes like waves lapping on Lake Erie.

We continue fasting though most of our actions are completed for the week. Continuing the fast is a way to keep remembering the men in Guantanamo. Just because we have accomplished something this week with our witness, they are still there, another day, and another day.

SO, the news here:
5 people from WAT were arrested at the Jan 11th action in front of the White House.
5 Muslim men have been cleared for release and remain in Guantanamo.

Solidarity. FIVE.
Of 41.

Ridah Bin Saleh Al-Yazidi (Tunisia) – Detained for 15 years; Cleared for 10 years
Muieen Adeen Al-Sattar (United Arab Emirates) – Detained for 15 years; cleared for 7 years
Tawfiq Nasir Awad Al-Bihani (Saudi Arabia) – Detained for 14 Years;  Cleared for 7 years
Abdul Latif Nasir (Morocco) –  Detained for 15 Years; Cleared for 1 year
Sufyian Barhoumi (Algeria) – Detained for 15 Years;  Cleared for 1 year

The five from WAT,  Ken Jones, Manijeh Saba, Helen Schietinger, Beth Adams,  and Brian Terrell, were arrested by the Secret Service after they crossed a police line, and were then handed over to the DC police.  It now appears that even walking on to Pennsylvania Avenue which runs in front of the White House and across from Lafayette Park, can get you arrested.  Yellow police tape is ready to be rolled out frequently around Pennsylvania Avenue.

At the rally at the White House Jan 11th for the men in Guantanamo, one lawyer shared a letter, message, from her client in Guantanamo. He appreciated our work and effort at support and solidarity. He indicated the importance of it to him, and others there.

The strength of WAT’s nonviolent actions is to use our bodies as the way to connect with the men in Guantanamo. If they are fasting, we must be. If they are imprisoned, we must be too.

And so, when you imagine the beauty of them being released, you imagine what it would be for them to come home to their families.

It is among the ordinary things that families do: to serve tea. It’s the essence of refreshment of friendship. warmth and commensality.

So, after the rally, with speakers addressing the awful injustice done to these men with their continued imprisonment, we had a tea ceremony as though they were returning home.

Each of us from WAT in our orange jumpsuits with black hoods received tea in a cup. We pushed up our black hood at the offer of tea to reveal a person under the hood, and we were served tea, with each man’s name still in Guantanamo called out.

Then we placed our cup, with the man’s name penned on it, on the sidewalk at Lafayette Park, in a row. 41 for the 41 men.

Simple acts, simple hospitality. It is the core of being human.

The men in Guanatanamo, their simple humanity, remembered and called out that they may be released to return to their families, to provide for them, to love them, to eat and drink with them.  We sang with passion:

We hear a beautiful sound
It is the breaking of chains.
We see a path full of hope
We have found the way
Let them go home!
Let them go home!
Let them go home!
Let them go today.

And we could see/believe it happening if only for a moment, in hope. It will happen. It’s hard to trust. To trust that the arc of the universe bends towards justice.

So we do something with our bodies to give it a push, to em-body it before it happens. It will be. It will.

So, what kind of tea would you serve the men in Guantanamo when they come home?  If/when they come to your home?
And would you fear it, its fierce reality?
What kind of tea did we serve in preparation for their homecoming?


WHOSE AIR?
Reflection by Lu Aya, fka Luke Nephew
January 11 th, 2018

Martin wants to know who owns Pennsylvania Avenue. Fair question. Because
after a procession flowed into a speak out that sang into a ritual of remembrance,
something happened. Five friends slowly turned around and stepped off the
sidewalk and peacefully and strongly walked under the police tape and out into that
very avenue. And then…
Well, let’s go back to the mourning in the morning.
The church basement. The imperfect circle. The solemn song.
Actually, let’s go back to the slaughter of human rights that is occurring during each
second of the day a few miles away in DC Jail and a few hundred miles away in
Guantanamo and in so many more prisons. Let’s return to the breath of the tortured.
The unheard words upon their tongues. The forty-one beating hearts in their chest.
Yes. Let’s return to them.
Wait.
Let’s stay here for a moment.
Right here. Heart. Beat beat. Heart. Breath. Breath. Breath.
Breathe.
Yes.
Let’s stay there.
Even as we go on.
Knowing that the air there is the same air as we breathed here. In and out. Slowly as
we stare across the circle in the church basement. Slowly as we step by step by step
sweeping through the streets of DC with our long line of loved ones. Single file. In
orange jumpsuits and black hoods. Detainees forward. Into a city of fear. Through
the capitol of crushing callous capitalist brick and stone and cold. Let us return to
where we hold a sign saying, “It Would Take A Genius To Close Guantanamo”. Let us
break the park department rules and fill the sidewalk while the park police freak out
over nothing. Lets remain calm. Let’s begin the rally with song. Lets go back to the
faith leaders praying, that comfort may never seduce us away from the struggle for
liberation. And let’s back to the booming voices of comrades catapulting beautiful
cries for justice and freedom in the sky of all those listening. Lets go to the tea
poured
Cup,
By cup
By cup
By 41 cups
That rose up higher and realer and wider than the white house.
And let’s go now
To our family
Who were arrested
For walking
Onto Pennsylvania Ave
And realizing that maybe the streets are actually theirs…

But the air.
The air, my beloved friends,
The air
Is definitely
Ours.


CCR files first major challenge to Trump’s Guantanamo policies
From the Center for Constitutional Rights:

On January 11, CCR and co-counsel filed the first major challenge to Trump’s Guantánamo policies, in federal court in Washington, DC. This collective filing is on behalf of nearly a dozen prisoners who are detained without charge, all for more than a decade. In this court filing, we argue that the petitioners’ perpetual detentions violate the Constitution and the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), and ask the court to intervene on behalf of the men who have been deemed “forever prisoners.”

Media coverage
The following links give media coverage on the CCR legal challenge and the J11 anniversary:

Statement by Sen. Feinstein
Op-ed by Sharqawi Al Hajjj
Baher Azmy on Slate
Aziz Huq on Guardian
Steve Vladeck on CNN.com
Laura Pitter/HRW on HuffPo
AP
Buzzfeed
The Guardian
Washington Post
McClatchy
AlterNet
HuffPo (news article)


On Friday, WAT members traveled to Baltimore for the opening rally of the Conference on U.S. Foreign Military Bases, organized by the U.S. Coalition Against Foreign Military Bases.  Sr. Paulette Schroeder reports back:

Today A group of us had a real desire to travel from D.C. to Baltimore for a rally against the U.S now having close to 800 military bases around the world. The first people to congregate were three well-dressed men from Nepal who will be speakers in the conference to follow on Saturday and Sunday.  Folks representing Japan were there. Demonstrators from Code Pink and “No War,” Our Buddhist monk friends, NCNR and many more peace organizations were represented. Witness Against Torture also spoke up urging our country to finally close the base we’ve been fasting to close all week long.  A beautiful sense of solidarity pervaded the crowd of about 50 people. Longtime activists in the anti-war movement stood in hope and endurance beside young people entering activism.


This weekend we finish our week-long Fast for Justice with a WAT community retreat ending with a fast-breaking dinner celebration.  We offer our readers deep gratitude for accompanying us on this week’s journey.

We close with a poem by Towfiq Bihani, a Guantanamo detainee represented by Reprieve.

Go everywhere you would like my darling.
Don’t look behind.
Don’t fear the sight.
Live in happiness.
In gladness.
Sing as loud as you can,
Dance as much as you would like.
Enjoy all the fun you can.
My darling, forget your past.
And go ahead to start,
A new way, another way
Don’t look back on yesterday
Don’t feel sorry about me,
Or even worry about me
Don’t think who you left behind
Go everywhere you would like
Don’t look behind

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Day 3 Fast for Justice: We grieve

Fast for Justice 2018 // Film

 

In the dark times shall there be singing?

Yes.
There will be singing about the dark times.

–Bertolt Brecht

Day 3 Update – January 10, 2011

Friends,

Wednesday afternoon, we began a ceremony of grieving at the Museum of Native American History Museum, with the song:

‘Earth, my body; water, my blood; air, my breath, fire, my spirit.’

We then processed, singing and carrying flowers, to the Senate Park where the largest immigration support rally occurred just a month ago.

We remembered the long history of violence and oppression in the US and our hopes, from ending Islamophobia to ‘justice for the hills and rivers’.

Even this week we hear in the news more stories of violence intensifying: the loss of protective status for Salvadoran refugees and, that very afternoon, immigration raids on dozens of convenience stores.

Wise leaders among us sense that grieving is fundamental to the emotional life of nonviolence, as John Dear tells us in a passage read for our ritual.

We need to make grief a regular part of our daily meditation.  Grief needs to become a way of life for us.  For the millions of impoverished people in the world –from El Salvador to Chile to Malawi to South Africa to India and the Philippines–this is an old lesson.  The indigenous peoples of the world have long practiced grief.  But wealthy first world people, especially North Americans, do not know how to grieve.  We presume this is a morbid practice.  In fact, it is a way toward healing and comfort, as those who care for the human family and the earth show us.

The practice of grief allows the compassion within us to breathe and stretch, and the possibilities of universal love to grow within and among us.  If we learn to grieve regularly, we will awaken to our common humanity, expand our hearts, widen our compassion, and discover new horizons of peace.

For some the grief was personal, raw and recent.  Afterwards, one member remarked that the ritual helped her fold her personal loss into the suffering outside our doors and borders.  Our breaking hearts are strengthened for the work.

We ended with a litany:  We are grieving, we are sorry, let us hope.  You may find the litany at the end of this message.


There Is a Man Under That Hood:  book launch
Wednesday evening, at the Impact Hub down the street we held a book launch event.  WAT’s new book, There is a Man Under That Hood, features Luke Nephew’s poem by the same name, accompanied by photos taken or curated by Justin Norman.  The afterword is written by Omar Farah, staff attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights.

Many of you will remember Luke’s spoken word performance of the title poem in front of the DOJ on a snowy, cold J11 in 2011.  See it again at this link.

The book’s arresting photos provide us with a moving record of our work over the years.  As Omar Farah writes in the books afterword:

WAT has been fearless in giving voice to the prisoners’ lived experiences.  WAT has honored the prisoners’ humanity, even when the government cynically vilified them, and it has unflinchingly stood as witness to their suffering, even when the world’s attention turned away.

Learn more and order a copy at this link.


Yet another J11
It’s early in the morning on January 11th, as we write this message.  Can it be yet another J11 that we must come together?  Today we mark 16 years since the first prisoners were brought to Guantanamo.  We join with a coalition of 15 organizations to rally at the White House at 11:30 am.

At 9:30 this morning,  CCR will be livestreaming a morning press conference from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where they will announce a significant new filing challenging Guantánamo under Trump.

At 2:30 this afternoon, a panel entitled Guantanamo Under Trump, moderated by Peter Bergen, will take place at New America, 740 15th St., NW, Suite 900.  Featured speakers will be Andy Worthington, Karen Greenberg, and Thomas Wilner.


In closing, we offer you the litany we used in Wednesday’s grieving ritual.  Together may we find strength for this journey.

A Litany:  We are mourning. We are sorry. Let us hope

Response: We are mourning

From the arrogance of power….
From the tyranny of greed
From the politics of hypocrisy
From the addiction of control
From the idolatry of national security
From the cancer of hatred
From the hysteria of nationalism
From the sin of racism
From the sin of sexism
From the sin of torture
From the sin of war
From the waste and preparation of war

Response:  We are sorry.

For our hardness of the heart….
For wasting our gifts
For wanting too much
For wounding the earth
For ignoring the poor
For trusting in weapons
For refusing to listen
For exporting arms
For desiring dominance
For lacking humility
For failing to risk
For failing to trust
For failing to act
For failing to hope
For failing to love
For failing to negotiate
For our arrogance
For our impatience
For our pride
For our silence

Response: Let us hope

That we learn compassion…
That we embrace nonviolence
That we act in justice
That we live in hope
That we do your will
That we love our enemies
That we strive to be peacemakers
That we live simply
That we practice sharing
That we protect the earth
That we cherish all life

 

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Week of Actions: Closing Guantanamo, Ending Torture

Fast for Justice 2018 // Film

We invite you to join Witness Against Torture and partner organizations for a series of events in Washington, DC, calling for closing Guantanamo and ending torture.  Highlights include:

Tuesday, January 9th, 6:30 pm
UNJUSTIFIABLE MEANS BY MARK FALLON
Kramer Books, 1517 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036

“President Trump wants to bring back torture. This is why he’s wrong…In Unjustifiable Means, Fallon reveals this dark side of the United States government, which threw our own laws and international covenants aside to become a nation that tortured—sanctioned by the highest-ranking members of the Bush Administration, the Army, and the CIA, many of whom still hold government positions, although none have been held accountable.”  –kramers.com

Wednesday, January 10th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
THERE IS A MAN UNDER THAT HOOD: CLOSING GUANTANAMO AND ENDING TORTURE
Impact Hub, 419 7th St., NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20004
PEACE POETS – ANDY WORTHINGTON – ALIYA HUSSAIN – BOOK LAUNCH
Sponsored by Witness Against Torture & Center for Constitutional Rights

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.

Thursday, January 11th, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
RALLY TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO AND STOP TORTURE
White House, Lafayette Square, Washington, DC 20006
Hosted by a coalition of 15 organizations

Please join human rights activists, torture survivors, Guantánamo attorneys, 9-11 family members, ex-military officials, and members of diverse faith communities in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the opening of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, as they rally to close the prison, end indefinite detention, dismantle Islamophobia, and call for the immediate transfer of the cleared detainees.

Thursday, January 11th, 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
GUANTANAMO UNDER TRUMP
New America, 740 15th St., NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005
ANDY WORTHINGTON – KAREN GREENBERG – THOMAS B. WILNER – MODERATED BY PETER BERGEN

“What will happen to the prison and its detainees in the remaining years of the Trump administration? Will Donald Trump reverse course and increase the number of detainees held there? Will the prison ever close?”  –newamerica.org


2018 Fast for Justice
Witness Against Torture will be hosting activists for the entire week, Jan. 7 – 14, for its 2018 Fast for Justice.  Click here for the tentative schedule.  For RSVP or further information:  please email witnesstorture@gmail.com.

 

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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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Forced-Feeding is Torture! No Secret Courts!

News // Film


Forced-Feeding is Torture! No Secret Courts!

Emergency Call to Action and Solidarity Fast – Witness Against Torture
Gather at the US Federal District Court (333 Constitution Ave) on Oct. 6 and 7
8:30 am. 333 Constitution Ave, Washington, D.C.

On Monday October 6 a trial will begin in which attorneys for Wa-ei Dhiab will seek a stop to the brutal forced-feeding of men at Guantánamo protesting their indefinite detention and abuse at the prison. Witness Against Torture is calling for a public presence at the courthouse to demand an end to forced-feeding and the closing of Guantánamo.

Dhiab is a Syrian man held without charge or trial at Guantánamo since 2002 and cleared for release in 2009 by the US government. He has, according to his attorneys, been forcibly extracted from his cell and force-fed as many as three times a day since the start of the most recent Guantanamo hunger strike in the winter/spring 2012.

Dhiab’s lawsuit seeks an end to forced-feeding. Justice Gladys Kessler, who is hearing the case, has described forced-feeding at the prison as “painful, humiliating, and degrading.” The lawsuit is our best chance to have the courts do what President Obama has been unwilling to do — end forced-feeding.

dhiabInvite


Pack the Court – No Secret Trials

Dhiab’s attorneys will present as evidence videotapes showing Dhaib being violently extracted from his cell and/or force-fed. The government has petitioned that the trial be held entirely in secret so that the press and public may not see or otherwise learn about the gruesome reality of forced-feeding. Judge Kessler has denied the request, describing the government’s request of a secret trial as “deeply troubling.” As of today, portions of the trial will be open to the public.

We need to pack the courthouse and demonstrate that the torture of forced-feeding is immoral, illegal, and unacceptable.

Plan on attending the hearing. The attorneys for Dhiab have requested that there be no signs or anything else that may irritate the judge. Our presence, and gestures of our protest such as orange ribbons on our clothes, will convey our protest.

Click here to read recent news stories:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article2295641.html

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/02/judge-knocks-government-attempt-keep-gitmo-hearing-secret/


Fast for Dhiab and the Hunger Strikers — Fast for Justice

Witness Against Torture is calling for an emergency fast in solidarity with Wa-ei Dhiab, other hunger strikers, and all the men at Guantánamo. Please consider fasting on October 6 and/or October 7.

If you plan to fast, send an email to witnesstorture@gmail.com. Please included in the email where you live and a brief statement as to why you are fasting.

Witness Against Torture will report to the media, Dhiab’s attorneys, and the public the numbers of those fasting and convey, through attorneys, your messages to Dhiab and others at Guantánamo.

Furthermore, please consider making two phone calls to:

1. Cliff Sloan at the State Department (202-647-4000) to insist he tells the military to stop the inhumane practice of force feeding prisoners on hunger strike and to work more quickly to shut the doors and empty the cells of the prison.

2. U.S. Southern Command (305-437-1213) to decry the conditions at Guantánamo, especially the force feeding.

Example script: I am fasting for 24 hours in solidarity with the prisoners at Guantánamo, especially for those who are on hunger strike and being force fed. I am particularly mindful of Wa-ei Dhiab, a prisoner who is being represented by attorneys in Federal District Court October 6th and 7th. His attorneys are seeking a stop to the brutal force-feeding of men at Guantánamo protesting their indefinite detention and abuse at the prison I am calling today out of concern for him and for the rest of the prisoners. I am asking you to stop the inhumane practice of force feeding and resume releasing the number of prisoners on hunger strike.

The men at Guantánamo have repeatedly expressed how important it is to them to know that people in the United States and the world fast in solidarity with them.

Join us on Monday, October 6th at 8:30 am. 333 Constitution Ave, Washington, D.C.


Witness Against Torture on Social Media:

Please “like us on Facebook & follow us on Twitter & Instagram

Post any pictures of your local activities to our flicker account and we will help spread the word on Tumblr.


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.  If you are able, please donate here. www.witnesstorture.org

 

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Adnan Latif–Presente!!! On Second Anniversary of His Death at Guantanamo

News // Film

“Where is the world to save us from torture? Where is the world to save us from the fire and sadness? Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?”
–Adnan Latif

Dear Friends,
Today marks the second anniversary of Adnan Latif’s death. And still there has been no independent investigation regarding the true cause of his death. As we continue to call for justice for all the Guantanamo detainees, demand an end to indefinite detention and torture and that Guantanamo be closed, let us not forget those who died at Guantanamo, including  Adnan Latif.
With gratitude, Art

Adnan Farhan Abd Al Latif

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ISN_00156,_Adnan_Farhan_Latif

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif
Undated photo of Adnan Latif used by JTF-GTMO in 2008
Born (1975-12-27)December 27, 1975
Aluday, Yemen
Died September 8, 2012(2012-09-08)(aged 36)
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
Detained at Guantanamo
ISN 156
Charge(s) No charge extrajudicial detention
Status death in custody
Children married, with children

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif (December 27, 1975 – September 8, 2012), also known as Allal Ab Aljallil Abd al Rahman, was a Yemeni citizen imprisoned at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from January 2002 until his death in custody there.[1][2]

Contents

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Capture and detention

Adnan Latif was in a car accident in 1994, during which he suffered significant head injuries, which left him with on-going neurological problems.[3] Latif said he traveled from Yemen to Pakistan in August 2001 to seek medical treatment, while the U.S. government alleged he went there to receive military training from affiliates of al Qaeda.[4] He was captured in December 2001 at the Pakistan/Afghanistan border in a widespread dragnet of Arabs, and brought to Guantanamo prison in January, 2002.[1]

Judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings

Immediately after his imprisonment, Latif and Guantanamo prisoners generally were blocked from filing habeas corpus petitions because of PresidentGeorge W. Bush‘s doctrine that “war on terror” detainees were not covered by the Geneva Conventions, and so could be held indefinitely without charge and without an open and transparent review of the justifications for their detention.[5] In June 2004, however, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in Rasul v. Bush, that Guantanamo captives had basic habeas corpus rights, to be informed of and allowed to attempt to refute the allegations justifying their detention.
Latif attorneys Marc D. Falkoff and David Remes filed a habeas corpus petition on his behalf in 2004.[6][7]

Following the Supreme Court Rasul ruling, in July 2004 the Department of Defense set up its Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT).[5] Scholars at theBrookings Institute, led by Benjamin Wittes, would later, in 2008, list detainees still held in Guantanamo, and the CSRT allegations against them.[8] The allegations were as follows regarding Adnan Latif: the military alleged he was an al Qaeda fighter and operative, that he went to Afghanistan for jihad, that he “… took military or terrorist training in Afghanistan,” and that he “… fought for the Taliban.”[8] Further allegations were that his name or alias had been found “on material seized in raids on Al Qaeda safehouses and facilities,”[8] and that he served on the security detail of Osama Bin Laden.[8] Annual CSRT status review hearings were held in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007,[9] and there is evidence Latif attended his 2004, 2005 and 2007 hearings.

Late in 2005, Guantanamo detainee habeas corpus rights were again restricted and largely replaced with a much more limited review known as “DTA appeal, after United States Congress passage of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. However, in June 2008, theUnited States Supreme Court overturned provisions of those laws and restored detainee access to habeas corpus.

Responding to Latif’s habeas corpus petition in July, 2010, District Court judge Henry Kennedy ordered Latif’s release from detention, his ruling stating that the government had failed to show by a preponderance of evidence that he was part of al Qaeda or an affiliated force.[4][10] Latif attorney Remes said, “This is a mentally disturbed man who has said from the beginning that he went to Afghanistan seeking medical care because he was too poor to pay for it. Finally, a court has recognized that he’s been telling the truth, and ordered his release.”[11]

The decision was, however, appealed and a three judge DC Circuit Court of Appeals panel over-turned the ruling in an October 14, 2011 split decision which granted government allegations stronger credibility.[12][13][14] The Supreme Court decided not to review the appeals court decision.

Life at Guantanamo

Latif and other prisoners described Guantanamo conditions to Latif attorney Falkoff when he and other U.S. attorneys were first allowed to visit them in November 2004: “During the three years in which they had been held in total isolation, they had been subjected repeatedly to stress positions, sleep deprivation, blaring music, and extremes of heat and cold during endless interrogations.”[15] Latif also described to Lakoff a visit to his cell by an ‘Immediate Reaction Force” team:

A half-dozen soldiers in body armor, carrying shields and batons, had forcibly extracted him from his cell. His offense: stepping over a line, painted on the floor of his cell, while his lunch was being passed through the food slot of his door.

“Suddenly the riot police came,” he recounted. “No one in the cellblock knew who for. They closed all the windows except mine. A female soldier came in with a big can of pepper spray. Eventually I figured out they were coming for me. She sprayed me. I couldn’t breathe. I fell down. I put a mattress over my head. I thought I was dying. They opened the door. I was lying on the bed but they were kicking and hitting me with the shields. They put my head in the toilet. They put me on a stretcher and carried me away.”[15]
Latif became a frequent hunger striker, and described being force fed as “like having a dagger shoved down your throat.”[15] The Miami Herald writes that at times Latif “would smear his excrement on himself, throw blood at his lawyers, and on at least one occasion was brought to meet his lawyer clad only in a padded green garment called a ‘suicide smock’ held together by Velcro.”[16]

In 2008 Latif attorney Remes filed an emergency federal court motion stating that Latif was suffering seizures and was not being properly treated. The motion, which requested Latif’s medical records, a pillow and an additional blanket, was denied.[17][18] Falkoff recalled, “he was the guy that we tried unsuccessfully to get medical records for, and a blanket and mattress, after we found him lying on the floor of our interview cell, weak and emaciated.”[16][18]

In a letter described in an April 17, 2009, Al Jazeera report, Latif stated he had recently been abused at Guantanamo.[19] The report also quoted attorneyDavid Remes‘ observations on the appearance of Abdul Latif and his other clients:[19] “Adnan Latif … has a badly dislocated shoulder blade. I’ve seen the evidence of physical torture and I’ve also heard about the evidence of psychological torture.”

Guantanamo’s Psychiatric ward, where Latif was reported to have been confined.

The Associated Press reported on May 11, 2009 that Remes said that Latif had slit his wrists during his most recent visit.[20] Remes said that Latif had used the edge of a strip of broken veneer from the side of a table in the interview room to sever a vein in his wrist, and used the interview table to hide his bleeding wrist from others and the room’s video camera. Remes stated that Latif had tried to commit suicide before, and therefore had at times been confined to the prison’s psychiatric facility.[20] Remes also said Latif needed mental health care, but all camp authorities were doing was attempting to keep him subdued.

A December 10, 2012 article at Truthout reported that Latif had written a letter to Remes complaining of his treatment at Guantanamo. Dated May 28, 2010, Latif complained in the letter that guards were placing contraband items, such as scissors, in his cell.[21] “The way they deal with me proves to me that they want to get rid of me, but in a way that they cannot be accused of causing it,” he told his attorney. The same article reports that on two separate instances in 2010, camp officials tried to get Latif to fire Remes. On one of these occasions, he was given an injection with an unspecified drug before a meeting with a military lawyer. Latif told Remes later (according to attorney notes, as described in the Truthout article) that “they wanted to have no one report” his death.

Clearances for release

On April 25, 2011, whistleblower organization WikiLeaks published formerly secret assessments drafted by Joint Task Force Guantanamo analysts.[22][23]Latif’s nine page long assessment was drafted on January 17, 2008 and signed by camp commandant Mark Buzby, and it recommended that he be transferred out of Department of Defense control.[24][25] Historian Andy Worthington, the author of The Guantanamo Files, writes that the 2008 assessment repeated earlier recommendations that Latif be released.[26] Worthington reported that in addition to being cleared for release by Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and by the US District Court Judge Henry Kennedy, Latif had been cleared for release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Barack Obama had set up when he came to office in 2009.

Death

n September 10, 2012, Latif died at Guantanamo.[27] He had been held there for 10 years, 7 months and 25 days, after arriving there on January 17, 2002.[9][28] On September 10, camp authorities informed the press that a detainee held in the punishment cells of Camp five had been found dead early in the afternoon of September 10, but did not reveal the detainee’s name, and stated that the cause of death was not apparent.[29] The next day it was acknowledged the prisoner was Adnan Latif, and later a military autopsy reportedly declared suicide the cause of death. The results of a full Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation were not expected to be known until sometime in 2013.[27][30]
Before the publication of Latif’s identity, Wells Dixon, a lawyer who helped several Guantanamo detainees with their habeas corpus petitions, described the captives’ feelings of despair, which he attributed to recent judicial reverses.[29]

Further reading

See also

References

  1. ^ a b “Military Identifies Guantánamo Detainee Who Died”. Washington, DC: New York Times. September 11, 2012.
  2. ^ “List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006”. United States Department of Defense. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2006-05-15.  Works related to List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006 at Wikisource
  3. ^ Marjorie Cohn (2012-06-20). “Hope Dies at Guantanamo”. The Jurist. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11.
  4. ^ a b “Adnan Farhan Abd Al Latif, Guantanamo Detainee, To Be Released For Lack Of Evidence”. Washington, DC: Huffington Post. August 16, 2010.
  5. ^ a b “U.S. military reviews ‘enemy combatant’ use”. USA Today. 2007-10-11. Archived from the original on 2012-08-11.
  6. ^ “Latif Autopsy Report Calls Gitmo Death a Suicide: Questions Remain”. truthout. November 26, 2012.
  7. ^ Carol Rosenberg (2012-09-12). “Dead Guantánamo detainee won, then lost federal court-ordered release”. Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2013-05-19.
  8. ^ a b c d Benjamin Wittes, Zaathira Wyne (2008-12-16). “The Current Detainee Population of Guantánamo: An Empirical Study”. The Brookings Institute. Retrieved 2010-02-16.  mirror
  9. ^ a b Margot Williams (2008-11-03). “Guantanamo Docket: Allal Ab Aljallil Abd Al Rahman”. New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  10. ^ “Kennedy Ruling”. Empty Wheel. August 16, 2010.
  11. ^ Yemeni psych patient ordered freed – Guantánamo – MiamiHerald.com Archived 15 February 2011 at WebCite
  12. ^ “(No. 1:04-cv-01254)” (pdf). CADC. October 14, 2011. Retrieved 2013-05-19.
  13. ^ Joe Wolverton (2011-11-14). “D.C. Court of Appeals Overturns Release of Gitmo Prisoner”. New American. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13.
  14. ^ Benjamin Wittes (2011-11-09). “Latif: A Very Big Deal”. Lawfare.
  15. ^ a b c “Poems from Guantanamo”. Amnesty International USA. December 12, 2007.
  16. ^ a b “Dead Guantánamo detainee won, then lost court-ordered release”. Miami Herald. September 11, 2012.
  17. ^ Thomas F. Hogan (2008-09-22). “Guantanamo Bay Detainee Litigation: Doc 471” (PDF). United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 2008-09-23.  mirror
  18. ^ a b Tom Ramstack (2008-09-23). “Federal court won’t hear plea for blanket”. Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-09-25.  mirror
  19. ^ a b “New abuse claims at Guantanamo”. Al Jazeera. 2009-04-17. Archived from the original on 2009-04-17.
  20. ^ a b Ben Fox (2009-05-11). “Lawyer: Gitmo prisoner slashed wrist, hurled blood”. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2009-05-11.
  21. ^ “Lawyer: Latif Letter About Guantanamo Speaks From the Grave”. Truthout. December 10, 2012.
  22. ^ Christopher Hope, Robert Winnett, Holly Watt, Heidi Blake (2011-04-27). “WikiLeaks: Guantanamo Bay terrorist secrets revealed — Guantanamo Bay has been used to incarcerate dozens of terrorists who have admitted plotting terrifying attacks against the West – while imprisoning more than 150 totally innocent people, top-secret files disclose”. The Telegraph (UK). Archived from the original on 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2012-07-13. “The Daily Telegraph, along with other newspapers including The Washington Post, today exposes America’s own analysis of almost ten years of controversial interrogations on the world’s most dangerous terrorists. This newspaper has been shown thousands of pages of top-secret files obtained by the WikiLeaks website.”
  23. ^ “WikiLeaks: The Guantánamo files database”. The Telegraph (UK). 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
  24. ^ Mark H. Buzby (2008-01-17). “Recommendation for Transfer out of DoD Control (TRO) for Guantanamo Detainee, ISN US9AG”. Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Retrieved 2012-09-18.  Media related to File:ISN 00156, Adnan Farhan Latif’s Guantanamo detainee assessment.pdf at Wikimedia Commons
  25. ^ “Guantanamo Bay detainee file on Adnan Farhan Abd Allatif, US9YM-000156DP, passed to the Telegraph by Wikileaks”. The Telegraph (UK). 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2012-09-18. “Recommendation: Transfer out of DoD control.”
  26. ^ Andy Worthington (2012-09-12). “Obama, the Courts and Congress Are All Responsible for the Latest Death at Guantánamo”. Archived from the original on 2012-09-18. Retrieved 2012-09-18. “He had been cleared for release under President Bush (in December 2006) and under President Obama (as a result of the Guantánamo Review Task Force’s deliberations in 2009). He had also had his habeas corpus petition granted in a US court, but, disgracefully, he had not been freed.”
  27. ^ a b “Guantanamo prisoner who died challenged his confinement, was rebuffed by Supreme Court”. Newser. 2012-09-11. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11.
  28. ^ “Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (ordered and consolidated version)”. Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, from DoD data. Archived from the original on 2009-12-21.
  29. ^ a b “US says a prisoner has died at Guantanamo; investigation pending into cause”. Washington Post. 2012-09-10. Archived from the original on 2012-09-10.
  30. ^ “Latif Autopsy Report Calls Gitmo Death a Suicide: Questions Remain”. Truthout. 2012-11-26.

External links

 

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I Refuse to Participate in this Criminal Act

News // Film

Navy Nurse Refuses to Torture Guantánamo Prisoner

By Helen Schietinger and Jeremy Varon
July 16, 2014 | 22:57EST

These are the words of a Navy nurse assigned to force-feed prisoners who are hunger striking at Guantánamo Bay prison:

I refuse to participate in this criminal act.

Abu Wael Dhiab, one of the hunger strikers, witnessed the nurse’s courageous stand and reported it to his lawyer. Dhiab, as quoted through his attorney, described the nurse as “very compassionate” in his treatment of detainees over the prior months. “Initially, he did carry out his orders,” says Dhiab. “He decided he could not do it anymore.”

The nurse’s refusal is an extraordinary act of conscience.  It speaks to the brutality of forced-feeding, which the hunger strikers describe as torture and medical and human rights bodies have denounced. It affirms the ethical obligations of medical professionals, which prohibit forced-feeding.  And it underscores the broader criminality of Guantánamo, where men are held indefinitely without charge or trial and further brutalized when they protest.

Witness Against Torture praises the heroic act of the Guantánamo nurse, who should not suffer disciplinary consequences for his principled stand. We hope his act inspires other staff at Guantánamo to refuse to execute camp orders. Most of all, we hope the nurse’s resistance further awakens the American people and President Obama to the barbarity of Guantánamo and hastens the closure of the prison.

Force feeding poster

Refusing food is among the only means the detained men have to protest their indefinite detention and abusive treatment. Such treatment includes the defilement of the Quran, genital and body cavity searches before and after leaving their cells, being beaten by Forcible Cell Extraction teams when taken from cells, and being held in solitary confinement for months and even years.

Rather than addressing these grievances, President Obama has allowed the continuation of forced-feeding — a tactic the military admits is intended to break the 18-month-long hunger strike. The procedure, while couched in secrecy, is shockingly violent compared to medically warranted tube-feeding.

As described in letters from detainee Emad Hassan, the hunger striker is strapped into a restraining chair, often tightly around the abdomen. A tube larger than one used for standard nasogastric tube-feeding is forced through delicate nasal passages, down the throat, and into the victim’s stomach. Nutritional supplement, at times containing medication or water, is injected rapidly in large quantities into the stomach, sometimes causing nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The tube is then removed — and is sometimes yanked quickly from the nose, causing trauma in the nasal passages.

Dhiab’s lawyers are challenging his forced-feeding in federal court. In a related lawsuit, Judge Gladys Kessler granted the disclosure of videotapes of forced-feeding sessions to attorneys. One attorney described the footage as “so ‘grim’ that I had trouble sleeping.” Media groups are asking a judge to release the videos to the public, which absolutely should happen.  Regardless of the ruling on the tapes, President Obama should view them and ask himself if forced-feeding is something he or the United States can condone.

The nurse refusing to obey the order to force-feed prisoners displayed great courage and integrity. Nonetheless, it is astounding that it has taken until now for a medical professional to refuse to engage in forced-feeding.The professional code of ethics directs all nurses to “practice with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth and uniqueness of every individual” and “protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.” (American Nurses Association Code of Ethics, 2001)  The World Medical Association insists that, “Forcible feeding is never ethically acceptable. Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment.” (WMA Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers, 2006).  In a letter to the Pentagon, the American Medical Association stated, “the forced feeding of detainees violates core ethical values of the medical profession.” (J. Lazarus, AMA President, 4/25/2013)

The military defends forced-feeding as a humanitarian measure to save the lives of detainees. The men, however, are crying out against their abusive treatment by prison staff and their unjust detention. They don’t have to be force-fed to be kept alive. The solution is for the Obama administration to: 1) order the military to immediately end forced-feeding and cease and desist from all abuse of the prisoners in its custody 2) release without delay all the men who have been cleared for transfer by the US government 3) and finally close Guantánamo, ensuring human rights and proper due process for all the men detained there.

Abu Wael Dhiab is among the six prisoners whom Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel just recently designated for transfer to Uruguay. His release would mean the dismissal of his lawsuit seeking an end to his forced-feeding. But the forced-feeding of others — and lawsuits challenging their treatment — will continue, as will the immoral and illegal detention of men at Guantánamo. We owe it to Mr. Dhiab, to those who continue to suffer at Guantánamo, and the men who have died there to close Guantánamo and newly respect the human rights and dignity of all.

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July Newsletter: WAT Takes Action to Support Survivors of Torture

News // Film

Report Back from Torture Survivors Week: June 26 Photos, Video and Update

June 27, 2014 / The White House / Source: Flickr
June 27, 2014 / The White House / Source: Flickr

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 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.

 

No pushback now! Release those unjustly bound.

Got 90 seconds? Please watch & share the video of Witness Against Torture delivering letters to Senator Ayotte and McCain. This is our response to an amendment that could stop all transfers from Guantanamo. The bill has passed the House and is now awaiting the Senate before becoming law.

Click here to read full report & see photos.

Extended video

Click here to read the letters sent to Senator Ayotte and McCain Offices. 

 

SAVE THE DATE– January 5– 13, 2015

Every January, the Witness Against Torture community gathers to fast and take action in Washington D.C. to remember the opening of the prison camp in Guantanamo.  This year January 11th, 2015 marks 13 years of torture and indefinite detention.  We will be gathering from January 5th – 13th, 2015 to fast for justice and a week of actions. Join us as we stand in solidarity with those that remained unjustly detained. Save the date and stay tune for more information. If you have any questions please email WitnessTorture@gmail.com

 

Friday Fast for Justice

Susan / Boston
Susan / Boston

Join in solidarity with the men on hunger strike in Guantanamo by fasting on Fridays. We invite you to consider joining the Friday Fast for Justice. Go without food in solidarity with the hunger strikers in Guantánamo.  If you are already participating in or are interested in participating please sign up here. You can commit to fasting on a specific Friday; weekly for a particular time period; until Guantánamo is closed; or whatever works for you. If you join the fast, we would ask you to:

  • Fast on Friday, in any form you like;
  • Make three phone calls (click here to see who we are currently focusing our calls on)
  • Write to a prisoner at Guantánamo. (click here for instructions on how)
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