Dear Friends and Supporters,
As the Department of Defense expresses doubt about Guantanamo’s closure, and the Department of Justice refuses to hold those who created and implemented torture policies accountable, Witness Against Torture is again in Washington, DC focused on the closure of Guantanamo, accountability for torture, and the connections between Islamophobia, racism, and white supremacy.
Below you will find information about Witness Against Torture on Trial, the Friday Fast for Justice, rallies in DC and around the country, a national call-in day on Torture Accountability, and other ways to get involved.
Thanks for your continued support and dedication.
Witness Against Torture
Witness Against Torture (WAT) on Trial
CONFRONTING RACIST VIOLENCE FROM GUANTANAMO TO FERGUSON
Anti-Torture Activists Stand Trial for Alleged Disruption in US Capitol;
Condemn Lack of Accountability for Torture and Racist Police Violence
Media Contacts: Tom Casey, email@example.com, 716-491-9172; Matt Daloisio, firstname.lastname@example.org, 201-264-4424
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, June 25, members of Witness Against Torture (WAT) will defend themselves in Washington, D.C. Superior Court against charges stemming from their demand of accountability for torture and domestic police violence.
On January 12, 2015, ten people were arrested in the US Capitol Visitor Center after unfurling banners reading, “We Demand Accountability for Torture and Police Murder!” and “From Ferguson to Guantanamo: White Silence = State Violence.”
The trial will take place at DC Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue, Washington, D.C., NW at 2:30 pm.
The protests followed the release of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s use of torture, including waterboarding and “rectal feeding.” They also took place against the backdrop of grand juries’ refusal to indict police officers who killed young black men. The defendants will argue that the government itself is guilty of crimes and of failing to enforce its own laws.
In the Capitol, the protestors drew parallels between the abuse of detainees overseas and state violence against people of color here at home. “The CIA, US military, and political leaders get away with the torture of Muslim men, just like police get away with the killing of African American men,” says Beth Brockman, a WAT member from North Carolina arrested in the Visitor Center. “Both reflect the racism of our system and must stop.”
The trial comes in the wake of terrorist violence in South Carolina and the same week that human rights organizations called on Attorney General Lynch to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate CIA conduct in its interrogation program, as detailed in the Senate report.
“The United States has a race problem and a violence problem, and an unwillingness to confront either of them,” says Tom Casey, from Buffalo, New York. “The government itself must stand up for equality under the law, which means defending the rights of all people, no matter who violates them.”
On Monday, June 22, the case of 11 members of Witness Against Torture, who had allegedly disrupted a session of the US Senate in January, was dismissed when the government conceded that it was “not ready” to prosecute the defendants. “It’s sad and pathetic,” says Bob Cooke of Maryland. “The government can’t get its act together to prosecute US citizens, and drops the case. But it holds foreign, Muslim men at Guantanamo for more than a decade with any charge whatsoever. Something is terribly wrong here.”
*you can read more on this blog post by our friend Aliya from CCR — You Will Never Guess Who Is on Trial Due to the CIA Torture Report
Fast for Justice on Friday
This Friday, June 26th – the United Nation’s International Day in Support of Torture Survivors – we are calling for a national day of fasting (sunrise to sundown) in solidarity with the hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay. We invite you to join Witness Against Torture’s Fast for Justice — a tradition we’ve held for many years.
This year we are joining our partners in Amnesty International, the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, the Washington Peace Center, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and other organizations, in a traditional Ramadan fast. If you’re in DC, please join us at the White House at 7:30 pm for an iftar celebration ending with the breaking of the fast at 8:38 pm.
As you may know, a traditional Ramadan fast begins with eating a light breakfast before sunrise (tomorrow it will be 5:44 am) and breaking the fast with a meal that begins with dates (called the iftar) after sundown (June 26: 8:38 pm). Between sunrise and sunset, no food or drink, including water, is taken. If you join the fast, we ask you to go without food from sunrise to sundown.
Amnesty International National call-in to the DOJ
On Friday, June 26, we are supporting Amnesty International’s national call-in to the Justice Department urging it to reopen investigations into CIA torture in light of the Senate torture report. The call-in information can be found here.
Amnesty also has a new toolkit and Q&A on the American Torture Story campaign and our factsheet on the Justice Department’s inaction.
June 26-28 in Washington, DC
12-1pm: Vigil at the White House with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Community
4:00 p.m.: Rally at the Department of Justice
Constitution Ave between 9th St & 10th St NW WDC
(Amnesty Int’l, WAT, CCR, NRCAT, NCPCF, No Separate Justice, and others)
7:30 p.m.: Iftar (breaking Ramadan fast)
The White House
• There are also June 26 actions in 8 cities and towns urging the Justice Department to investigate CIA torture, available here.
Saturday June 27
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition Vigil
TASSC annual vigil in Lafayette Square
Sunday June 28
6:30 p.m.: Targeting Muslims: State Violence in the War on Terror
Ramadan Iftar fundraiser and documentary for the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (CPCF): $20
Impact Hub DC, 419 7th St NW WDC 20004
(cosponsored by Impact Hub and Washington Peace Center)
WAT will be based at St. Stephens Church. To stay there, contact Helen Schietinger at email@example.com
For more information on trial dates and times: Click here.
Mark your Calendars – October 5, 2015
Witness Against Torture Vigil in collaboration with No Separate Justice in NYC
The human rights and civil rights abuses taking place in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay have, rightly, been placed under a spotlight by people of conscience around the world. Some believe that if only those detained at Guantanamo could be transferred to American soil, to be held and tried as civilians, the abuses would end and justice would be done.
Yet many of the same abuses can be found in the hundreds of “war on terror” cases that have been processed through courtrooms and federal prisons across the United States since 9/11. These abuses–which include inhumane conditions of confinement both pre- and post-trial; secret evidence; intrusive surveillance; vague material support charges; FBI-created plots brought into communities through paid informants; and the criminalization of Islamic speech and association–remain largely invisible.
The mission of the No Separate Justice campaign is to place these abuses, taking place in prisons and courtrooms across the United States, firmly on the agendas of human and civil right organizations, the media, and the U.S. public through education and activism that draws directly upon the experiences and voices of those most directly affected.
Contact Jeremy Varon at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved in the October 5 Vigil.
Witness Against Torture on Social Media
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Post any pictures of your local activities to our flicker account and we will help spread the word.
Donate to support our work
Witness Against Torture was formed in 2005 with the goal of shutting down the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay and ending US torture. It now addresses state violence more broadly, including the persecution of people of color by police and in US prisons and jails.
Witness Against Torture is completely volunteer driven and run. We have no paid staff, but do have expenses associated with our organizing work. If you are able, please donate here.
Witness Against Torture