Washington, DC – A coalition of human rights activists, torture survivors, Guantánamo attorneys, 9-11 family members, and members of diverse faith communities is holding a rally at the White House followed by a march to the Justice Department on Sunday, January 11, to mark the 13th anniversary of the first arrival of detainees at Guantanamo. The event, titled “A Promise Still to Keep: Close Guantánamo, Stop Torture, and End Indefinite Detention,” will follow an interfaith service in front of the White House at 1pm.
The coalition is calling on the Obama administration and Congress to close Guantánamo, end indefinite detention, ensure accountability for torture, and reaffirm the absolute legal ban on torture. The rally will be followed by a visually powerful “detainee procession” of figures in orange jumpsuits and black hoods and signs marking the anniversary.
The groups involved drafted a call to action:
On the second day of his administration, President Obama pledged to close the detention facility at Guantánamo and reaffirmed the ban on torture. But Guantánamo remains open.
On January 11, 2015 the detention facility will enter its 14th year of operation. Despite the recent release of some detained men, more than 100 remain at Guantánamo, including dozens who are cleared for transfer — the great majority of whom are from Yemen. Those still detained suffer the torment of separation from their families and ongoing, indefinite detention. Some detainees remain on hunger strike and are brutally force-fed.
The Senate report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program describes acts of torture that shock the conscience. President Obama banned the CIA torture program by executive order when he took office, but that is insufficient to ensure that torture and other ill-treatment are never used again. Obama’s Justice Department has refused to prosecute those who authorized, ordered, designed, and carried out a torture program that is in plain violation of U.S. law and treaty obligations.
President Obama, whose second term will soon end, must fulfill his promise to close the detention facility and end torture. The time to act is now.
1:00pm Interfaith service in front of the White House sponsored by the National Religious Coalition Against Torture and Interfaith Action for Human Rights
1:30pm Rally in front of the White House followed by a march to the Justice Department
Sponsors: Amnesty International USA, the Blue Lantern Project, the Center for Constitutional Rights, CloseGitmo.net, Code Pink, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Reprieve, September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the Torture Abolition and Survivor and Support Coalition, Veterans for Peace, We Stand with Shaker, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait, and others.
“We urge President Obama to continue to release men from Guantanamo and to bring renewed attention in particular to cleared Yemeni men – including our clients, Tariq Ba Odah, Mohammed Al Hamiri, Fahd Ghazy, and Ghaleb Al-Bihani – to put an end to their indefinite detention based on their Yemeni citizenship. Whatever pretense of authority to detain the men at Guantánamo existed during combat operations in Afghanistan, it has evaporated: it is past time to close the prison and bring a swift end to 13 years of indefinite detention without charge or trial.” ~ Baher Azmy, legal director, Center for Constitutional Rights
“The Guantanamo Bay prison facility is a travesty of our justice system that has globally tarnished America’s reputation. Continued detainment of these prisoners under such dire, harsh conditions without due process is unethical and unconscionable. Many inmates were cleared for release years ago, yet they still remain imprisoned. The Council on American-Islamic Relations calls on President Obama to hold true to his promise, bring all the detainees to trial or release them, and shut down Guantanamo once and for all.” ~ Zainab Chaudry, spokesperson, Council on American-Islamic Relations and board member, Interfaith Action for Human Rights
“Thirteen years on, it is a scandal that more than a hundred people remain imprisoned at Guantanamo without charge or trial, half of them long cleared for release. While the latest wave of transfers out of the prison is encouraging, there are still abuses happening at Guantanamo every day – and the White House continues to try to bury the evidence. Instead of covering up the failings of the prison, in 2015 Obama must redouble his efforts to close it once and for all.” ~ Cori Crider, strategic director, Reprieve, and a lawyer for several Guantanamo detainees
“Despite the White House’s efforts to close Guantanamo, 59 men who have already been cleared for release remain. TASSC calls on President Obama to fulfill his promise to close Guantanamo and on Congress not to hinder the Administration’s efforts to close Guantanamo.” ~ Gizachew Emiru, Esq., executive director, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition
“As we count a grim thirteenth year since Guantanamo opened, dozens of men continue to languish there with no idea when or even if their detention will end. The president has momentum and the legal authority to finally shut down Guantanamo, and must act quickly. Congress should not seek to restrict or slow these efforts.” ~ Noor Mir, associate field organizer, Amnesty International USA
“Guantanamo symbolizes two immoral acts – torture and imprisonment without trial. It should have been closed more than a decade ago. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture applauds the Administration for transferring 28 detainees in 2014, now it’s time to close Guantanamo and sign legislation that permanently ends torture.” ~ Rev. Ron Stief, executive director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
“The Bush regime opened the torture camp at Guantánamo Bay not just to imprison captives but to send a message to the world that the U.S. could operate with impunity outside the norms of international law. The Obama administration has had six years to close it, punish those who ordered the torture, and forever repudiate indefinite detention and secret rendition as national policy, but to its great discredit, has not. We who care about justice demand the closure of Guantanamo immediately.” ~ Debra Sweet, director, World Can’t Wait
“The Yemeni prisoners cleared for release or transfer still held at Guantánamo have waited more than a decade to see their families. It will take the administration years to carry out its strategy of finding third countries where these 50+ men can be strangers. Send them home today!” ~ Nancy Talanian, No More Guantanamos
“With the Senate report on CIA interrogations, we decisively know that the United States committed torture. The ongoing operation of the prison at Guantanamo extends injustices that are hardly now in the past. The eyes of the world are vigilantly watching to see if President Obama fulfills his pledge to close the prison, and will judge his presidency and the country he leads based on whether he succeeds.” ~ Jeremy Varon, Witness Against Torture
“We congratulate President Obama for his progress towards closing Guantanamo in the last year, but much more remains to be done – the release of the 59 men still held who have long been approved for release, and trials or release for all the other men still held. The president has two more years to fulfill the promise to close Guantanamo that he made when he took office six long years ago. He must not fail!” ~ Andy Worthington, CloseGuantanamo.org