For Immediate Release
Activists Pressure to Close Guantanamo as Hunger Strike Escalates and Senator Feinstein Calls for Restart of Transfers from the Prison
Protests in DC, Chicago, NY – April 29 Global Fast to “Save Shaker” – Calls to SouthCom – Rolling Fast
WASHINGTON - With the US military now acknowledging 94 hunger strikers at Guantanamo, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California; Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee) has called on President Obama to restart the transfers of prisoners “cleared for release” to their homelands or third countries and urged removing the blanket ban on the repatriation of Yemeni prisoners. Responding to this dramatic development and the escalating hunger strike, US activists are intensifying their pressure on the Obama administration to resolve the hunger strike in a humane fashion and take decisive action toward closing the prison.
“At last,” says Frida Berrigan of Witness Against Torture, “leading voices in the US government are responding to the desperate pleas of starving men by calling for major policy changes that should have been made years ago. The President re-starting transfers and working to remove terrible restrictions on the release of Yemeni and other prisoners is urgently needed start down the road of closing Guantanamo. We need action now; otherwise, prisoners will die and the shame of a failed policy will only deepen.”
“Shaker Aamer, the sole UK citizen still at Guantanamo,” added Brian Hynes, “recently pleaded, ‘I hope I do not die in this awful place. I want to hug my children.’ These words, from a man cleared for release 6 years ago, haunt me. The United States is slowly killing men in a prison that should never have existed.”
Witness Against Torture, a group dedicated to closing Guantanamo, is organizing and participating in a series of actions in response to the hunger strike:
• Vigils at the White House every Friday from 12-1 pm. This Friday, April 26, Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, will speak in support of Senator Feinstein’s demands of President Obama. In Chicago, activists vigil every Friday at 4:30pm (State & Jackson)
• Participation in a global fast, organized by “Save Shaker” in the UK, on Monday, April 29 demanding the immediate release to the UK of Shaker Aamer, the sole UK resident still at Guantanamo.
• A vigil in Times Square, NYC on Monday, April 29 from 4-5:30pm.
• A “rolling fast,” in which people across the United States fast for 24 hours in solidarity with the hunger strikers. Begun three weeks ago, the rolling fast will continue until the hunger strike is over. More than 200 people have participated in WAT fasts during the hunger strike.
• Daily calls to US Southern Command in Florida, which operates the prison.
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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.