President Barak Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo and End Torture is broken. January 11, 2011 marks the beginning of the 10th year of confinement, abuse and injustice for the men at Guantanamo.
On Tuesday, January 11, 2011 Witness Against Torture gathered at the White House for a press conference, then proceeded in a “prisoner procession” to the Department of Justice for nonviolent direct action. 174 men are imprisoned at Guantanamo.
From 1.11‐1.22, we will fast and hold daily vigils and demonstrations throughout Washington, haunting the sites of power with the specter of Guantanamo’s cruel injustice.
Why These Dates? On January 11th, 2002, the first men came to the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba‐ which the Bush administration had established as a permanent holding facility for those dubbed enemy combatants. The notion was that U.S. law‐ like the writ of habeas corpus, the right of due process, freedom from torture and abuse‐ would not extend to Cuba.
Then, on January 22, 2009, President Obama committed his administration to closing the prison camp at Guantanamo within a year. Since then, the process of releasing, relocating, or prosecuting the men there has been mired in bureaucratic machinations, Congressional grandstanding, fear‐mongering, and political backsliding. Despite his claim to break from the past, President Obama has upheld many of the worst Bush policies – from the denial of habeas corpus, to immunity for torturers, rendition, and indefinite detention without charge or trial.
That this abrogation of the law has been allowed to continue under Obama is a galling outrage. Guantanamo continues—and worse, is being replicated and extended in Afghanistan where the United States administers at least nine prisons. We need principled, nonviolent witness and action to secure due process, accountability, and a world without torture, cruelty, and endless warmaking.
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