Inauguration Bleachers

From the Archive

Close Guantánamo with Justice Now

Day of Action Against Torture, Extra-Legal Detention at the White House and Department of Justice on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

WAT Activists Line Up in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama entered office promising to close Guantánamo and remove the taint of lawlessness it represents. Yet the prison remains open. While Congress blocks efforts to transfer prisoners to the U.S. for criminal trials, the White House draws up plans to hold some men indefinitely, without charge or trial.

That’s not acceptable, says Witness Against Torture, which will begin two weeks of protest in Washington, D.C. on January 11. On the 11th, a coalition of human rights groups will hold a rally in front of the White House at 11 am, followed by a “prisoner procession” to the Department of Justice. There, one group of participants will demand a meeting with DoJ officials, while others will engage in non-violent civil disobedience. By blocking the lawsuits of former detainees, appealing the decisions of federal judges ordering the release of prisoners, and refusing to prosecute Bush administration officials for torture, the Justice Department has failed to fulfill President Obama’s promise of accountability and respect for the rule of law.

“Congress and the White House are rapidly moving toward a policy of permanent detention without trial for many of the prisoners at Guantánamo,” says Bob Cooke of Montgomery County, who serves on the board of Metro DC- Baltimore Pax Christi. “Bagram and other detention centers remain beyond the reach of the law. This violates the U.S. Constitution, as well as international law. When our government’s policies violate the law and our nation’s ideals, it’s up to the people to challenge the government directly.”

The protest on the 11th will be followed by 10 days of fasting, lobbying, and demonstrating in Washington, D.C.

Witness Against Torture demands include:

  • Close the prison at Guantánamo Bay
  • Free all prisoners who have been cleared for release, ensuring their safe resettlement and providing asylum in the U.S. for those unable to go elsewhere
  • Produce charges against all other prisoners and prosecute them in U.S. courts
  • Open all detention centers to outside scrutiny. That includes accepting the oversight of the International Committee of the Red Cross of all facilities
  • Conduct a comprehensive criminal inquiry against all those who designed and carried out torture policies under the Bush administration

Who: Witness Against Torture and co-sponsors
Event: Rally, “prisoner procession” to Department of Justice, and non-violent direct action
Date and Time: Tues, Jan. 11, beginning at 11am
Location: The White House, Washington, D.C.

Who We Are: In December 2005, Witness Against Torture drew international attention when its members walked to Guantánamo Bay to protest at the prison. Since its return, the group has organized vigils, marches, nonviolent direct actions, and educational events opposing torture and calling for the closure of Guantánamo Bay.

Press Contacts

Matthew Daloisio, 201-264-4424
Frida Berrigan, 347-683-4928
Beth Brockman, 919-824-9283

Join us on social media

  • Witness Against Torture on Facebook
  • Witness Against Torture on Twitter
  • Witness Against Torture on Instagram
  • Witness Against Torture on YouTube
  • Witness Against Torture on Tumblr