Stone-Walled by Obama Justice Department, Anti-Torture Activists Demand to Be Heard, Demonstrate at Justice Department on Friday, October 1, 2010

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jeremy Varon, jvaron@aol.com, 732-979-3119
Helen Schietinger, h.schietinger@verizon.net, 202-344-5762

Stone-Walled by Obama Justice Department, Anti-Torture Activists Demand to Be Heard, Demonstrate at Justice Department on Friday, October 1, 2010

WASHINGTON - After meeting with the Justice Department’s Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison on June, 15 2010 to discuss the
Obama administration’s controversial record on detention issues, a
coalition of human rights advocates were promised further dialogue with
the Department. That commitment has not been honored.

Coalition members will rally at the Justice Department on Friday,
October 1 at 2:30 pm to demand that the Obama administration answer to
public outrage at its continuation of Bush-era policies, such as
indefinite detention and the use of the states-secrets defense to
dismiss lawsuits of men kidnapped by the United States and tortured.

“After a fruitful meeting in June, during which we were promised
meaningful follow up by Office of Public Liaison Director Portia
Roberson, we have written many letters and made many phone calls, to no
response,” says Richard Sroczynski, a New Jersey-based member of Witness
Against Torture.

“President Obama came into office promising that government would be
transparent, accountable and receptive to the citizen voice,” says
Jeremy Varon, a New School University history professor who works with
Witness Against Torture. “Yet the Department of Justice won’t even honor
its promise to meet with us again. This isn’t show for us. We are
addressing the commission of gravely serious crimes-- the failure of the
Justice Department to hold anyone to account.”

The demonstration will take place from 2:30 to 3:30pm on Friday, October
1, 2010 at the Department of Justice headquarters (950 Pennsylvania
Avenue, NW between Ninth and Tenth streets). Advocates from all over the
country will also be calling Director Roberson
(http://www.justice.gov/oipl/) to demand that the promised meeting be
scheduled.

The anti-torture coalition includes representatives from Witness Against
Torture, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Torture Abolition and
Survivor Support Coalition (TASSC), No More Guantanamos and other groups.

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Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. For the first 100 days of the Obama administration, the group held a daily vigil at the White House, encouraging the new President to uphold his commitments to shut down Guantanamo.

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