President Obama thundered last night that “as long as we maintain our common resolve. . . the state of our Union will always be strong.” But so long as Guantánamo remains open, and men are imprisoned without charge or trial, the United States is weak, in fatal breach of its own ideals. Energized by 10 days of protest in Washington, D.C. and the national outcry at the National Defense Authorization Act, we must now strengthen our own resolve to close Guantánamo, end indefinite detention, and secure justice for the victims of US abuse. We can all sign the “We the People” petition by our friends at Close Guantánamo to force the White House to answer to its bankrupt policies. We can all work — in the streets and in our communities — to create a world without torture and the sacrifice of liberty to fear and hatred. Join us.
Continue reading The State of Guantánamo
Message to Obama: No Guantánamo, No Bagram, No NDAA!
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thirty-five members of Witness Against Torture were arrested in front of the White House on Thursday, January 12 around three this afternoon. Dressed in the iconic Guantánamo orange jumpsuits and black hoods and accompanied by a cage representing indefinite detention, the activists were warned to clear the sidewalk by National Park Police or risk arrest. After occupying the sidewalk for more than three hours, they were arrested one by one.
Continue reading More Than Thirty Anti-Torture Activists Arrested at White House
Being together in community allows us to support one another, challenge one another, and collectively push limits. So on our final day of fasting, on the heels of a beautiful gathering of hundreds for January 11th we decided that rather than relax and reflect, we would continue to push forward.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 10
When Joanne in New York heard that the ten-day forecast for Washington DC during our fast would be rather beautiful and warm except for Wednesday, January 11th, which was predicted to be cold and rainy, she remarked, “You see, even the earth will be weeping that day.” And it was. But as you will read below in the various reflections on today’s rally and events afterwards, we could not have had a more solemn and powerful marking of the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Guantánamo as a detention center for the US “War on Terror.”
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 9
I came to fast and walk and build community with Witness Against Torture because I wanted to be in a place where we could remind each other of our humanity. My hope was answered on many levels. This was my first time doing an extended fast, and I got to experience in a new way what my body is capable of. I felt how vulnerable and dependent I am, and yet how much more resilient I am than I could have imagined. Torture and indefinite detention are meant to break people, to strip them of their dignity as human beings. Torture is a process of mutilating another person’s soul, something that neither the victim nor the perpetrator fully recovers from.
Continue reading Reflections of a First-Time Faster
Video: Beth Brockman the morning of day 8.
Today was a the day of perseverance, preparation and gathering. The round-the-clock vigil with the Guantánamo cell has created a strong presence in front of the White House; a constant reminder. Meanwhile, back at the church, various peoples and groups were assigned tasks in order for tomorrow to run smoothly. It will be no small feat of organization and cooperation for the many expected people to manifest as one singular group, simultaneously speaking out in front of four of the main government institutions responsible for the continuation of Guantánamo—the White House, Department of Justice, Congress and the Supreme Court.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 8
Photo: Cage vigil at the White House, hour 66
We have spent this cold, slushy day in D.C. fragmented into a number of small groups scattered in different directions. The projects, actions, and meetings included a vigil at the Pentagon (guided by Art Laffin, see his reflection below), a teach-in with Chris Hedges and another about torture at Freedom Plaza, an evening reflection encompassing action planning and personal sharing, a phone call with fasters in other parts of the country, and of course the continuation of the 92-hour cage vigil that is now more than halfway through. Because of that vigil, the lights, which are normally switched on around 7 a.m., stayed out until the afternoon, leaving a semi-dark space for those who’d been out overnight or quite early to rest and re-gather their strength.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 7
Activists Commit to Maintaining a 92-hour Vigil Until January 11, Tenth Anniversary of Guantánamo
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The specter of an orange clad, black hooded human being cowering behind iron bars is drawing a lot of attention at the White House this week. On Saturday, January 7, members of Witness Against Torture carried a reproduction of a Guantánamo cell over barricades surrounding Lafayette Park and deployed it in front of the White House.
Continue reading Over Fifty Citizens on Ten-Day Fast for Justice Carry Guantánamo Cell to President Obama’s Front Door
Day 6 of the fast is drawing to a close and many are feeling a natural exhaustion, but we continue to be animated by the number of projects that keep us moving, thinking, and interacting with each other and those around us.
We had a full day with a conference call to the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, a report about Afghanistan, the continuation of the 92-hour cell vigil, a White House vigil, a fasters circle, and a viewing of Taxi to the Dark Side with Occupy D.C. folks from McPherson Square.
As we continue in this work we are grateful for the involvement of friends near and far. Below are a few suggestions of how you can engage with the fast and actions either here in D.C. or from your home community.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 6
Hour 16 of 92-hr Guantánamo cage vigil at White House
We truly have transitioned. Long days of sitting in court room 312, wandering its halls, trying to ignore the pastries in the café while sipping hot tea, are over. Most of the day was spent out of doors – at Occupy Washington D.C., processing through the city, haunting the Washington Monument and the White House and introducing “the cage” to the public. And at four o’clock this afternoon, we lifted the Guantánamo Cell that had spent the day leading our procession around the city, over the stanchions that prevent vehicles from entering the White House grounds, and wheeled it onto Pennsylvania Avenue to begin what will be a continuous vigil (92 hours) until January 11th. As we write (11:30pm on Jan. 7th), three of our community are there at the White House, to be replaced by another shift soon.Whether in court or out of doors our momentum is sustained by the many diverse contributions of numerous participants of the WAT community. There are teams of volunteers directing their time and energy to various essential tasks: house-keeping, action planning, courtroom sketches, photographs and videos, waking up early to put on coffee and hot water, staying up late to collect and disseminate information. One of our un-credited daily updaters, Ted Walker, has left for a few days, as did defendant Brian Hynes, and his wife and daughter Heidi and Frieda, whose invigorating presence will be truly missed.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 5