Rights Groups, Including Close Guantánamo, Issue Statement in the Run-Up to the 15th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantánamo

5.1.17

Andy Worthington calling for the closure of Guantanamo outside the White House on january 11, 2016, the 14th anniversary of the prison's opening (Photo: Justin Norman).Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $1000 (£800) to support my annual visit to the US to call for the closure of Guantánamo (from Jan. 9-21).

 

Dear friends and supporters,

It’s horrible to realize that, next Wednesday, January 11, the prison at Guantánamo Bay will have been open for 15 years, and will begin its 16th year of operations with just  a week left under President Obama’s control, prior to Donald Trump taking it over. Trump, notoriously, promised on the campaign trail to “load it up with bad dudes,” and, just two days ago, tweeted, “There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”

As I have done every January since 2011, I will be in Washington, D.C. next Wednesday to call for the prison’s closure— a call aimed at the outgoing president, but, more specifically, now, aimed at Donald Trump.

I arrive in New York City on January 9, and travel to Washington, D.C. the day after, and I’ll soon be posting a more detailed itinerary — although I can tell you that at 2.30pm on January 11 I’ll be at New America to discuss Guantánamo at 15, and what we can expect from Donald Trump, with the attorney Tom Wilner, with whom I co-founded the Close Guantánamo campaign five years ago, Jim Moran, former congressional representative for Virginia’s 8th district and one of the representatives who led opposition to Guantánamo Bay, and New America fellow Rosa Brooks, who was Counselor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Special Coordinator for Rule of Law and Humanitarian Policy in the Pentagon from 2009-2011. If you want to attend this free event, please RSVP here.

I will also be taking part in an event in New York City looking at Guantánamo, torture and Donald Trump, and I’m also looking for TV and radio interviews, other speaking events, and opportunities to sing and play a few protest songs, so if you can help with any of this, do please get in touch.

In the meantime, please find below the statement — a call to action — from the rights groups involved in the protest against the continued existence of Guantánamo in Washington, D.C. next Wednesday. A full list of groups is listed at the end, but they include Witness Against Torture, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, World Can’t Wait, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Thanks in particular to Jeremy Varon of Witness Against Torture for his work drafting this statement, which then bounced around through various edits. Witness Against Torture are already in Washington, D.C., for their annual ten days of fasting and daily protests, and I encourage you to check out their progress here.

This is my quote for the forthcoming press release:

“Sadly, this year we have to send messages to both a president and a president-elect about the reasons why Guantánamo must be closed. President Obama knows all the reasons, as he has eloquently explained throughout his presidency, but now he needs to find the courage to do something extraordinary in his last week in office, and close the prison once and for all. This is necessary not just to fulfill his own promise to close it, made eight long years ago, but also to prevent Donald Trump from sending new prisoners there, and refusing to release any others, as he has threatened, as recently as this week. Mr. Obama, close it now!”

No More Guantánamo
No Torture Presidency
No Indefinite Detention

President Obama has failed in his pledge of eight years ago to close the US detention camp at Guantánamo. Congressional obstacles, misinformation perpetuated in the media, and the president’s own lack of will are all responsible for this policy disaster. Guantánamo remains a living symbol of US torture and other human rights abuses, and a place of misery for the 55 men it still houses. Most of them have never been charged with, let alone tried for, any crime.

In the remaining weeks before he leaves office, President Obama must do what he still can: expedite the release of cleared men and release the full 2014 Senate Torture Report documenting CIA abuses.

Human rights and the United States’ standing in the world face a new danger: the possibility that President-elect Donald Trump will adopt the use of torture. He has also called for increasing the prison population at Guantánamo.

Statements by Mr. Trump and members of his incoming administration to moderate his past positions offer little assurance that a Trump presidency will reject torture and respect the rule of law. Trump’s blatantly Islamophobic campaign stokes fear of a new era of religious discrimination and other abuses of civil and human rights.

Human rights activists are gathering in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2017 to mark 15 years since the prison at Guantánamo opened. We come to state, in one loud voice, to President-elect Trump:

Torture, discrimination, and indefinite detention are wrong. There is no exception.  Any attempt to bring back torture or to send new people to Guantánamo will be strongly opposed in the United States and throughout the world. Any effort to persecute Muslims — or any other religious, racial, or ethnic group — through special immigration or surveillance measures is unacceptable.

Mr. Trump must:

• make clear the absolute rejection of torture, as banned by US and international law

• continue handling domestic terrorism suspects within the civilian criminal justice system and in accord with the US Constitution

• continue the policy of transferring men from Guantánamo and work toward the closure of the prison, with its steep moral and financial cost to the United States

We hope Trump will listen to those at all levels of the US government and those around the world who reject torture and want to end the blight of Guantánamo. We also have no illusions about the role that human rights violations and the persecution of Muslims could play in a Trump presidency. More than ever, our vigilance is required.

We also stand together with a plea to the public — to those who have been part of longstanding efforts to oppose torture and close Guantánamo, as well as those new to this cause. We must hold the next administration accountable to the US Constitution, to human rights standards, and to the common-sense decency that guides us.

Please join us for a rally and march to close Guantánamo and end torture and indefinite detention. The rally — at which I’ll be speaking — is outside the Supreme Court at 11.30am, because our normal rallying point, in front of the White House, is off-limits prior to a presidential inauguration. Please keep an eye on Witness Against Torture’s website for details of the subsequent march.

Sponsors: Amnesty International USA, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Close Guantánamo, Code Pink, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ray McGovern with Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, No More Guantánamos, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the Torture Abolition and Survivor and Support Coalition, Veterans for Peace, We Stand with Shaker, Witness Against Torture, Women Against Military Madness, World Can’t Wait, and others.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    With just six days to go until the 15th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, here’s my first announcement of my visit to the US (from Jan. 9-21) to call for Guantanamo’s closure (as I’ve done every January since 2011), and a powerful statement – a call to action – from the various rights groups organizing the protest, including Witness Against Torture, Amnesty International, Close Guantanamo, the World Can’t Wait, the Center for Constitutional Rights and We Stand With Shaker. If you’re in NYC or DC, I hope to see you, and if you’d like to interview me, arrange an event, or have me sing and play some protest songs, please get in touch!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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