For Immediate Release
Activists Fast & Rally in Washington, DC to Close the Torture Prison
WASHINGTON - January 11 marks the beginning of the thirteenth year of the operation of the US detention detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Activists from throughout the country have gathered in Washington, D.C. this week to engage in street theatre, demonstrations, fasting, and direct action to demand that Guantanamo be closed immediately.
As part of these activities, Witness Against Torture will gather today, Friday, January 10, at 12 noon at the White House.
Furthermore, a larger coalition of human rights and grassroots groups will rally at the White House on Saturday, January 11 at noon, followed by a “detainee procession” through the streets of Washington.
Responding to the hunger strike of the men at Guantanamo and global solidarity with their plight, the Obama administration has at last resumed the transfer of innocent men from the prison and renewed its pledge to shutter it. Nevertheless, the administration remains far from fulfilling its promise. The torture of indefinite detention without charge or trial and the force-feeding of hunger strikers continues daily.
Since the hunger strike started in February, members of Witness Against Torture have participated in a rolling fast in solidarity with the prisoners. This week in Washington, we participate in anti-torture activities, which include a group fast of several dozen people, a national solidarity fast, and street protests in the nation’s capital. On January 11, anti-Guantanamo protests and vigils will take place throughout the country, including in Los Angeles, CA, Boston MA, Chicago IL, Santa Monica, CA Erie, PA, and Cleveland, OH.
“Through their hunger strike the prisoners in Guantanamo have again made the prison a matter of broad public concern and presidential action,” says Chris Knestrick, an organizer with Witness Against Torture. “But indifference or even hysteria can again set in. We need to close Guantanamo, without delay, and we’ll keep saying that to the President until he fulfills his promise and it’s done.”
“We know that Guantanamo is a crime and a sin,” says Chrissy Nesbitt, a faster from North Carolina. “We need to make Guantanamo history. We can do this by both closing the prison and facing up to torture as part of the U.S. national experience. In doing so, we must demand accountability and restitution to the victims of 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.