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Anti-Torture Activists to Occupy Washington, January 2nd-12th

Marking 10th anniversary of Guantánamo, events to include 10-day fast, courtroom support for activists who spoke out in congress, and a human chain from the White House to Congress

A Line of WAT Activists Marches in DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. — January 11 will mark the tenth anniversary of the first detainees’ arrival at the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. To remember this travesty, Witness Against Torture is planning 10 days of activities in Washington, D.C. demanding an end to torture and indefinite detention at Guantánamo, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and that the president reject the just-passed National Defense Authorization Act.

Jan. 2-12: WAT sponsors Hungering for Justice, a 10-day fast highlighting the ongoing crimes at Guantánamo and Bagram. Dozens of activists are expected to participate in the fast in Washington as well as other cities. Locations of daily activities in support of the fast to be announced.

Jan. 3: The jury trial of 14 anti-torture activists is scheduled to begin in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave., N.W. In June 2011, the 14 stood one by one in the Gallery of the House of Representatives to petition lawmakers to uphold the Constitution by not making funding for Guantánamo permanent. WAT will stand with the 14 in the court room, outside the courthouse, and around the city as their trial proceeds.

On Wednesday, January 4 the defendants will convene a press conference outside the courthouse before they go into trial for the day (time and exact location TBA).

Jan. 11: A dramatic Human Chain from the White House to the Capitol Building marks the 10th anniversary of detention at Guantánamo. WAT joins a broad coalition of human rights groups in sponsoring this vigil, which will begin after a noontime rally in Lafayette Park. During the rally and vigil, activists will be wearing orange jumpsuits and holding signs and other visuals demanding that the detention center be closed.

“Despite his campaign pledge to shut down Guantánamo, President Obama has continued the Bush administration’s practice of indefinite military detention there and at Bagram,” says Jeremy Varon, professor of history at the New School and an organizer with WAT. “Now, Obama says he will sign the National Defense Authorization Act, which extends this abusive regime by allowing the president to order U.S. citizens, as well, to be held indefinitely without due process on American soil. Not one more year – not one more day – of such policies is acceptable. Witness Against Torture is here in Washington to add our message to the ‘Occupy’ movement’s call for a return to a just political and economic system by demanding an end to the national disgrace that is Guantánamo.”

Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantánamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. January 2012 will be the sixth year the group has “occupied” Washington, DC to call for justice, accountability and mercy.

Press Contacts:

Malachy Killbride, 571-501-3729
Helen Schietinger, 202-344-5762
Jeremy Varon, 732-979-3119

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