January 11, 2014 marks the 12th anniversary of the arrival of the 1st detainees at Guantanamo. January also marks 5 years since President Obama pledged to close the detention facility.
Guantanamo Bay is a symbol of our nation’s use of torture. Closing the detention facility at Guantanamo is one of the steps needed to end U.S.-sponsored torture forever. Learn more about background information and ways in which the religious community has called for the closure of Guantanamo.
43 religious leaders recently wrote to the Senate, expressing their support for key provisions in the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. These provisions would simplify the process for transferring detainees to other countries when doing so is in our national security interests. They would also allow for temporary transfers for medical treatment and allow transfers for trial. These are humane provisions that will allow us to move toward closing Guantanamo. They are also common sense provisions that will save our country money. Read their letter here.
Letters to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
NRCAT joined other civil liberties, human rights, and religious organizations in sending a letter on December 19, 2013 to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. The letter expressed serious concerns about two developments at Guantanamo Bay: protocols for managing hunger strikes at Guantánamo had been revised, but the military refused to disclose the changes and the US Southern Command had decided to stop providing the public with information on the number of detainees engaged in hunger strikes. A new letter was sent on April 10, 2014 to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel urging greater transparency in providing basic information on the hunger strike at Guantanamo.
Letter to President Obama urging administration to carry out two key commitments
NRCAT joined other human rights, religious, and civil liberties organizations in sending a letter to President Obama. The letter specifically urged the President to "1) appoint an envoy in the Defense Department to lead the effort to close Guantanamo, and 2) direct Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to use his existing statutory authority...to transfer cleared detainees from Guantanamo to foreign countries that will respect their human rights." Full text of the letter can be found here.
Hunger strike at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay
In early February 2013, a hunger strike at Guantanamo began. For more on the hunger strike, see this op-ed by Rev. Richard Killmer, this op-ed by a prisoner at Guantanamo, this New York Times article, and the video of a NRCAT co-sponsored Congressional briefing. In response to the force-feeding of hunger-striking detainees, NRCAT released a statement opposing the force-feeding of mentally competent detainees and calling for independent medical professionals to examine hunger striking prisoners.
Fast to Close Guantanamo and July 24, 2013 Judiciary Committee Hearing
On July 24, Sen. Richard Durbin held a hearing about the possibility of closing Guantanamo. To express the religious community’s serious concerns about the dire situation at Guantanamo, NRCAT asked its supporters to engage in a “Fast to Close Guantanamo” leading up to the hearing. Almost 200 clergy and people of faith from across the country joined in the fast. See photos from some of the fasters on this Facebook page. For more information about the fast, go to www.nrcat.org/Fast2CloseGitmo2013 and view this story by Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.
Two Guantanamo prisoners repatriated to Algeria
The Administration announced on August 29, 2013 that two Guantanamo prisoners, Nabil Hadjarab and Motai Sayab, were repatriated to Algeria. Information about the release is available in this Washington Post article. NRCAT issued a statement thanking President Obama for taking this step on the path to close Guantanamo. You can send a letter to President Obama to thank him for the transfers and to urge him to continue his commitment to close the detention center.
- Use NRCAT's Close Guantanamo Sermon Talking Points.
- Use NRCAT’s interfaith prayer and bulletin insert during your worship services.
- Use NRCAT's Guantanamo Fact Sheet.
- Display an anti-torture banner in your congregation – you can purchase a banner through our online store.
- Gather signed postcards after services.
- Organize a public screening of NRCAT’s video “Repairing the Brokenness: A Faithful Response to U.S.-sponsored Torture”
Make your voice heard
- Use this sample email to urge the President and Congress to close Guantanamo.
- Use our letter to the editor talking points to write to your local newspaper, calling for closure of the prison at Guantanamo.
- Send a Tweet to the President: .@BarackObama .@WhiteHouse Please keep your promise to close #Guantanamo. #CloseGitmo .@NRCATtweets