For Immediate Release: Monday, December 5, 2011
(Note: This press advisory is issued along with Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights and Witness Against Torture)
Broad Coalition Calls on President Obama to Keep His Promise and Shutter Guantanamo Bay Now
Groups will mark 10th anniversary of first detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay with rally, human chain starting at White House
(Washington, D.C.) – A broad coalition of human rights groups and other like-minded organizations will mark the 10th anniversary of the first detainees being jailed at the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Wednesday, January 11, 2012, by holding a rally at Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., beginning at 12 p.m. Participants are urging President Barack Obama to keep his promise and shut down the detention facility.
After the rally, representatives from the organizations will come together for a visually dramatic human chain and vigil to illustrate their steadfastness in pushing the Obama administration and Congress to return to the rule of law. During the rally and vigil, activists will be wearing orange jumpsuits and holding a myriad of signs and other visuals expressing their desire to close down the detention center.
Media is encouraged to attend and cover the rally and vigil. Details below:
What: 10th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay prison -
10 years and counting – with a rally and human chain
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2011
Time: Rally: 12:00 p.m.
Human Chain vigil: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Lafayette Park
Pennsylvania Ave. and Jackson Place, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
Below, you will find comments from the January 11 coalition members (as of December 5, 2011):
"The terrible detention system at Guantanamo, Bagram and elsewhere devised by the Bush administration has been sustained by President Obama and Congress, while the meager rights won by detained men have failed to secure true due process for them. This course must be reversed, before the United States plunges deeper into the abyss of policies that shock the conscience and savage the law." Jeremy Varon, organizer, Witness Against Torture
"Because the prison stands as an internationally recognized symbol of torture and our nation’s failure to respect the basic dignity inherent in all people, Guantanamo Bay does not make us safer but instead inspires those who seek to harm us. It endures as a legacy of a period in which our government put its fears ahead of our values." Rev. Richard Killmer, executive director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
"President Obama is largely responsible for the failure to close Guantanamo, and his administration should not take its progressive base for granted. CCR has represented men at Guantanamo for the last 10 years, and that’s 10 years too many. It is unconscionable that there are 89 men being detained who’ve been cleared for release but are still imprisoned solely for political reasons. Guantanamo is one part of an illegal, inhumane, and unjust global detention policy. Our message: '‘No excuses, shut it down.'" Vincent Warren, executive director, Center for Constitutional Rights
"January 11th marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In the past decade Gitmo has become established alongside segregation, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and McCarthyism as an indelible stain on America’s global reputation. Yet the status quo persists and scores of detainees are still trapped in the limbo of indefinite detention with no opportunity to challenge the circumstances of their incarceration or regain their freedom. On this shameful anniversary Amnesty International members and other activists will gather in Washington, D.C. to remind the world that the Obama administration did not deliver the change it promised on the campaign trial and to show that not all Americans take as sanguine a view of that failure as apparently does President Obama himself." Tom Parker, policy director for terrorism, counterterrorism and human rights, Amnesty International USA
"Our government's failure to even consider accountability for human rights abuses by U.S. officials undermines the international human rights framework our nation once helped erect and America's world-historical victory in WWII. But that's not all: executive impunity for torture also de-legitimates our criminal justice system -- which relentlessly prosecutes powerless people en masse for vastly less severe crimes -- and our continuing efforts to address violent extremism abroad." Shahid Buttar, executive director, Bill of Rights Defense Committee
"The Quaker Initiative to End Torture- QUIT is the spiritual work of Quakers to end the policy and practice of torture." John Calvi, founding convener, Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT)
"From our nation's founding until the past decade, the United States proudly distinguished itself from human-rights abusing nations that engaged in kidnappings, disappearances, and torture. Now, tragically, our young people have grown up in a nation that has sunk to that immoral level." Rocky Anderson, executive director, High Road for Human Rights
"Lawless imprisonment has been formalized and 'legalized,' and the imprisoned population increased despite the turn to assassinations. The torturers are on self-congratulatory book tours, and the private contractors are buying their second yachts. And pundits wonder why we're in the streets?" David Swanson, co-founder, WarIsACrime.org
"The 2,771 detainees still at Guantanamo and Bagram represent all that is wrong--morally and legally--with the war on terror our government loosed on the world after 9/11." Debra Sweet, national director, World Can't Wait
"The City of Berkeley adopted Resolution NO. 65,491-N.S. on October 25, 2011 supporting the closure of Guantanamo, and urging that Congress and Homeland Security remove the bans on the movement of cleared detainees to the United States. The resolution was sent to President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, with copies to endorsers Amnesty International USA and Dominican School of Theology & Philosophy, and also to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay." Rita Maran, vice-president for advocacy, United Nations Association-USA East Bay Chapter
"North Carolina Stop Torture Now has worked since 2005 for a public investigation and accountability for North Carolina’s role in providing planes and pilots for the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. On January 19, 2012, NCSTN will announce new North Carolina initiatives to get the truth about our state’s involvement out in the open." Christina Cowger, member, N.C. Stop Torture Now
"Appeal for Justice is a human rights law practice. It represents 18 Guantanamo detainees. None of them have been charged with an offense, and their detention violates the Constitution and international law. This decade-old mockery of justice must end." David H. Remes, founder, Appeal for Justice
"All human life--friend or enemy--is created in the image of God. Guantanamo is an ongoing symbol of the torture and violation of t'zelem elohim, the Divine image. Candidate Obama often involved tikkun olam, the Jewish value of repairing a broken world and on his second day in office, he took a step towards that kind of repairing by ordering Guantanamo closed. But that promise of repair remains unfulfilled. It is time for him to truly bring repair to a broken world and close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay." Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, director of North American programs, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
"It is time to close Guantanamo, which has become a place to hold human beings indefinitely, without charge or trial and with no end in sight. As PHR has reported, medical evidence demonstrates that indefinite detention can cause lasting harmful physical and psychological damage that may rise to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Close Guantanamo and stop this illegal and immoral practice." Kristine A. Huskey, director, anti-torture program, Physicians for Human Rights
"America bears a festering ten-year-old wound called Guantanamo. Close it, try the prisoners in fair federal trials, and redeem our Constitution and our sense of justice in the names of those we lost on 9/11." Valerie Lucznikowska, organizer, September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
"As followers of Christ we know very well how the innocent are treated by the empire: suspected and tried unfairly, and often tortured and killed as an example to those who imagine a better world. Pax Christi USA rejects the 'security' that our government has enforced through torture, indefinite detentions, and sham military trials over the past decade, and urges the President to keep his long-neglected promise to close Guantanamo Bay detention center." Sister Dianna Ortiz, OSU, director, internship program, Pax Christi USA
"The tenth anniversary of the U.S. prison facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, serves as a grave reminder of the existence of U.S. prison facilities at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, that are still beyond the reach of the law. No prison beyond the law is worth the cost to innocent lives, to taxpayers, to our national security, and to our standing in the world." Tina Foster, member, International Justice Network