The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matt Daloisio – 201-264-4424,
Frida Berrigan - 347-683-4928

Activists Respond to Congress and the White House Failng to Close Guantanamo

Congress takes the Obama Administration's lack of leadership on Closing Guantanamo as an opportunity to keep it open. American Citizens march and vigil, still believing that Torture, Abuse and Indefinite Detention Are Wrong!


On Thursday, June 23rd, members of Witness Against Torture, the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition (TASSC), Amnesty International and other groups will embark on a March of Shame, walking between the institutions in Washington DC that continue to be responsible for unjust, illegal, and immoral American policies and conduct.

Beginning at the White House at 11am, the anti-torture activists will dress in the orange jumpsuits and black hoods that are now emblematic of the policies of torture and abuse that the Obama administration inherited from President Bush and has further entrenched. The group will solemnly process to the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court, and the Capitol.

The demonstrators will call on all branches of government to close Guantanamo, end indefinite detention, repudiate the Military Commissions, and resist any effort to reauthorize torture in the form of "enhanced interrogations." The procession takes will take place as the House of Representatives takes floor action on a version of the 2012 defense appropriations bill that keeps Guantanamo open, undermines US Federal Courts, and attempts to expand indefinite detention.

"I am marching because the United States continues to violate both the law and human rights," says Beth Brockman from North Carolina. "President Obama's promises on Guantanamo and the rule of law have proven meaningless, and now steps are being taken to keep Guantanamo open forever."

"The whole system is broken," says activist Jeremy Varon of Brooklyn, New York, who teaches history at the New School University. "Every political institution in this city is culpable, starting with the Executive. Now Congress has gotten into the act, working to make Guantanamo permanent and enshrining military detention and trials."

Witness Against Torture is being joined in the March of Shame by Amnesty International, which hopes to draw attention to the case of torture survivor Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen rendered by the United States. Amnesty is calling on the White House and Congress to apologize to Arar and to ensure accountability for the US government's use of torture.

Witness Against Torture will vigil at the Department of Justice on Wednesday (6/22) and Friday (6/24) from noon to 2pm. These demonstrations are part of a week of activities organized by the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International, culminating in a vigil in front of the White House on Saturday, June 25th from 7am to 7pm.

Witness Against Torture demands:
* Close the prison at Guantanamo Bay;
* Free all prisoners who have been cleared for release, ensuring their safe resettlement and providing asylum in the U.S. for those unable to go elsewhere;
* Produce charges against all other prisoners and prosecute them in U.S. courts;
* Open all detention centers to outside scrutiny. That includes accepting the oversight of the International Committee of the Red Cross of all facilities; and
* Conduct a comprehensive criminal inquiry against all those who designed and carried out torture policies under the Bush administration.

For more information, please visit:

Amnesty International

Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International

Witness Against Torture

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.