From the Archive
Friday morning, January 11, 2019
Today 17 long years ago, the first prisoners were brought to Guantanamo. We are preparing this morning for the annual J11 rally at the White House amidst a full day of activity. We’ll send you a report on those events on the weekend. But now we’ll catch you up on Thursday’s work in DC.
WAT headed to Capitol Hill Thursday for a little advocacy, both traditional and otherwise. WAT contingents from at least five states visited the offices of their own members of Congress. Bill Ofenloch reports, “Today we visited Senator Schumer’s office to urge him to support the closure of Guantanamo, cut off arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, stop funding nuclear weapons and support the ICAN Treaty. We also told them about the Kings Bay Plowshares, 3 of whom are from NY, and criticized the BDS legislation Schumer is so supportive of. We only saw aides but gave them an earful.”
Richard Sroczynski and Jeremy Varon for WAT and representatives of Amnesty and CCR met with several House Democratic leaders to assure that closing Guantanamo was on their agenda and to try to provoke specifics in that direction.
Richard reports, “Expectations were low but in fact we found open and favorable attitudes, limited despair, and at least some potential for action in the future. We can certainly hope.”
Pushing the envelope on advocacy a bit, 25 members of our community later converged on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office for a sit-in, with demands concerning both Yemen and Guantanamo. Four were arrested when they stayed after the office closed. Read our press release about their action, demands, and arrests below.
WAT action Wednesday at the Supreme Court
A beautiful sunrise back-lit our protest at the Pentagon early Monday morning.
Dear WAT friends,
Join us from home or in DC
We’ll be gathering tomorrow in DC for Witness Against Torture’s week-long Fast for Justice. If you can’t join us in person, we invite you to join us from home, fasting with us in solidarity with the men in Guantanamo or taking action in other ways. We welcome you to join a conference call with us on Monday evening.
This year, we will also be fasting in solidarity with the Kings Bay Plowshares 7(KBP7), our friends who are currently awaiting trial for their dramatic anti-nuclear weapon action at the Kings Bay nuclear submarine base in Georgia last April. Many of them have been deeply involved with our WAT community.
In November’s KBP7 evidentiary hearings on their Religious Freedom Restoration Act motion, defendants presented testimony that can provide us with insights for WAT’s resistance to the prison at Guantanamo.
Martha Hennessy opened the Nov. 19th hearing by recounting that her mother and her grandmother Dorothy Day taught her to pay attention to others’ suffering and to practice loving kindness. The KBP7’s concern for the death of billions in a large-scale nuclear conflagration is firmly rooted in their concern for the dignity of each person they meet in daily life. Similarly, we in WAT carry in our hearts and proclaim in the public square the personal stories of men who have been tortured and imprisoned without charge or trial at Guantanamo. Holding fast to the human dignity of each person unites our two causes to resist violence on every scale.
Carmen Trotta told the court that the possession of nuclear weapons freezes nations in hatred. We must let go, he said, to become a cohesive community. Likewise, we in WAT recognize that we can never achieve true security for the family of nations while our own nation clings to torture chambers and offshore prisons.
KBP7 members Mark Colville, Liz McAlister, Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, and Steve Kelly addressed the idolatry of nuclear weapons and the false sense of security these idols are meant to provide. This idolatry of things hugely powerful has a flip side: the dehumanization of the utterly powerless. The US attempts to make demons out of the 40 men still detained at Guantanamo, stoking citizens’ fear and then satisfying that fear with lawless brutality against these men.
We fast to keep their humanity in front of our own eyes and the eyes of our nation. Let us fast–and act–together this week in the search for a solidarity that transforms.
We invite you to join our fast next week wherever you are and in whatever way you choose. Let us know of your intentions by writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will hold a conference call with those who are fasting or taking action in solidarity with us on Monday evening at 8:00 pm.
WAT’s 2019 statement marking 17 years of Guantanamo
CLOSE GUANTANAMO — Rule of Law, Not Rule of Trump