For Immediate Release
Anti-Torture Activists to “Occupy” Washington, Jan. 2-12
WASHINGTON - January 11 will mark the tenth anniversary of the first detainees' arrival at the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. To remember this travesty, Witness Against Torture is planning 10 days of activities in Washington, D.C. demanding an end to torture and indefinite detention at Guantanamo, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and that the president reject the just-passed National Defense Authorization Act.
Jan. 2-12: WAT sponsors Hungering for Justice, a 10-day fast highlighting the ongoing crimes at Guantanamo and Bagram. Dozens of activists are expected to participate in the fast in Washington as well as other cities. Locations of daily activities in support of the fast to be announced.
Jan. 3: The jury trial of 14 anti-torture activists is scheduled to begin in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave., N.W. In June 2011, the 14 stood one by one in the Gallery of the House of Representatives to petition lawmakers to uphold the Constitution by not making funding for Guantanamo permanent. WAT will stand with the 14 in the court room, outside the courthouse, and around the city as their trial proceeds.
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Jan. 11: A dramatic Human Chain from the White House to the Capitol Building marks the
10th anniversary of detention at Guantanamo. WAT joins a broad coalition of human rights groups in sponsoring this vigil, which will begin after a noontime rally in Lafayette Park. During the rally and vigil, activists will be wearing orange jumpsuits and holding signs and other visuals demanding that the detention center be closed.
“Despite his campaign pledge to shut down Guantanamo, President Obama has continued the Bush administration's practice of indefinite military detention there and at Bagram,” says Jeremy Varon, professor of history at the New School and an organizer with WAT. “Now, Obama says he will sign the National Defense Authorization Act, which extends this abusive regime by allowing the president to order U.S. citizens, as well, to be held indefinitely without due process on American soil. Not one more year – not one more day – of such policies is acceptable. Witness Against Torture is here in Washington to add our message to the 'Occupy' movement's call for a return to a just political and economic system by demanding an end to the national disgrace that is Guantanamo.”
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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.