Witnesstorture

Calling for an end to torture everywhere, on any person for any reason.
www.witnesstorture.org
Recent Tweets @witnesstorture

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Dear All,

With May 23 we want to send a message that efforts in the last year to close the camp are nowhere near good enough, we are watching and continue to push.  As yet, likely neither the media nor the Obama admin. think of May 23 as significant. Our task is to mark it a big deal.  With demos and good press work, we may well get the media to run stories on the # of transfers and other key issues since last May, and make Obama, Sloan, et al feel the heat.
Our hope is for lots of vigils/demos.  They may be include large demonstrations or with as little as five people, a banner and hopefully, a federal landmark. 
Details about the local actions (including a virtual toolkit for how to plan your own) and other resources will be available May 1 at www.witnesstorture.org 
Please contact witnesstorture@gmail.com if you are planning an action in your community with the following and we’ll get your city added to the events page
 
— the location of any demo/vigil you can organize (the earlier you can get time and place info the better)
— the name of your organization if you are affiliated 
— a contact person in a given locale and their contact info to be published publicly (phone, email)
Here’s what last year’s April 11 Global Call to Action looked like!
Actions are currently planned in the following cities:

Baltimore (Amy and Ted aimlessnee@gmail.com)
Boston (Chris Spicer spicer.christopher04@gmail.com)
Chicago (Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo, Chris K.  cknest11@gmail.com and Marie S. marieshebeck@yahoo.com)
London (Guantanamo London Campaign london.gtmo@gmail.com)
Raleigh, NC (Beth Brockman brockman.beth@gmail.com)
NYC (WAT and Blue Lantern Project witnesstorture@gmail.com)
Munich, Germany (Anja M. mayeranya@aol.com)
Tiffin, OH
Project Peace, Tiffin Area Pax Christi, and People for Peace & Justice Sandusky County
Josie Setzler josiesetzler@gmail.com

NW Ohio

Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition (NWOPC)

Dakotakwolf@aol.com
Toronto, Canada (Free Omar Khadr Now campaign 444wsw@gmail.com)
San Francisco Bay (World Can’t Wait)
Honolulu (World Can’t Wait)
Pioneer Valley, MA (Nancy Talanian ntalanian@nogitmos.org)
Worchester, MA (Mike Benedetti mike.benedetti@gmail.com)
Read the call to action here.
**SAVE THE DATE**  Join Witness Against Torture June 27-30, 2014 as we gather together in Washington, DC to commemorate Torture Awareness Month.  Our time together will include public witness with members of the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition (TASSC), community building, planning for future events, and basking in the summer sun!  Email witnesstorture@gmail.com if you are interested in participating and/or helping to organize the gathering.

peace

—beth


We are inviting you to join WAT’s Friday Fast for Justice.  If you join the fast, we would ask you to:

·         Fast on Friday, in any form you like;

·         Make three phone calls to (1) the White House to urge President Obama to declassify the executive summary and major findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture swiftly and in their entirety,  as well as to fulfill his promise to close Guantanamo: 202-456-1111 or202-456-1414 ; (2) to Cliff Sloan at the State Department to insist he work more quickly to shut the doors and empty the cells of the prison. Let him know that you are disappointed that since President Obama’s speech last May, only 12 men have been released:  (PHONE NUMBER HERE);  and(3) to U.S. Southern Command to decry the conditions at Guantanamo: 305.437.1213.  Talking points on behalf of Guantánamo prisoners: I amfasting for 24 hours in solidarity with the prisoners at Guantánamo, especially for those who are on hunger strike.  I am calling today out of concern for them and for the rest of the prisoners.  I am asking you to resume releasing the number of prisoners on hunger strike and to stop the inhumane force-feeding of them.  Lastly, the U.S. must release those cleared for release and close Guantanamo.

·         Write to a prisoner at Guantánamo.  Choose a prisoner’s name off the list  at the Amnesty International website. There is also a sample letter that  can be downloaded and printed off here. The address to send the letter to is:

Detainee Name
Detainee ISN
Guantánamo Bay
P.O. Box 160
Washington, D.C. 20355
United States of America

If you are already participating in or are interested in participating in the Friday Fast for Justice, please sign up here.  You can commit to fasting on a specific Friday, on May 23rd, the Global Day of Action to Close Guantanamo and End U.S. Torture; weekly for a particular time period; until Guantánamo is closed; or whatever works for you.


That Our Hearts May Be Broken… and Filled:  Reflection on Our 2014 Fast to Close Guantanamo and End Torture

Many of you know that for the last five years I have joined Witness Against Torture (WAT) in January in Washington DC for fasting and public witness calling for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo and an end to torture. Having journeyed over 4000 miles this year I was compelled to reflect more deeply on why I make this journey.  Wanting to understand my reasons more fully and realizing with much regret, that I have not spoken about my motivations with so many of you I decided to share some thoughts on why I go.

I join with Witness Against Torture because Guantanamo exists.

  • ·      779 men have been detained at Guantanamo since the first men arrived wearing goggles and earmuffs, strapped to the floor of a plane on January 11, 2002.  155 men remain 12 years later.
  • ·      147 of the 155 men who remain have never been charged with a crime.
  • ·      Despite systematic attempts at distorting the truth, we now know that the large majority of men brought to the prison were never guilty of conspiring against the U.S.  In fact, 77 men currently detained are “cleared for transfer” by the U.S. government.
  • ·      One of the only remaining recourses for protesting their unjust detention – hunger strike – has been quelled by the military’s grotesque practice of forced feeding.  Forced feeding has been condemned by numerous groups, including the UN Human Rights Commission.
  • ·      While most people of conscience agree that Guantanamo should not exist (including President Obama), our “dirty rotten system” is so entrenched that men continue to be held unjustly for over a decade despite desperate attempts on many fronts to close the facility.
  • ·      In short, the reality of Guantanamo’s story and continued existence is an affront not only to our country’s supposed claim to value life and uphold justice, but to our very humanity itself.

I join Witness against Torture because of who I am and who I know we can be.

The reality of Guantanamo is horrific, but articulating the reasons I continue to make the journey to Washington require deep introspection.  I am aware that while it is the plight of the men at Guantanamo that drew me, I continue to go in part because my identity has been formed and my convictions cemented amidst this transformative community.  This aspect of why I go is more difficult to articulate.  Perhaps I can say simply that Witness Against Torture helps bring out the best in me and allows me to see the beauty in all of us.  Amidst this incredible community:

  • ·      I care deeply for others.  I am literally moved to tears not only by the haunting voices of Guantanamo detainees, but also by the pain of fellow community members and even my own struggles.
  • ·      I am invited to use my gifts and abilities on behalf of a cause that matters: prisoners unjustly bound, with very few advocates speaking out on their behalf.
  • ·      I seem to possess unlimited energy; energy to care, converse, confront, write, plan, laugh, protest, sing, reflect, pray, and love.
  • ·      I am invited into deep introspection:  I sit with my own brokenness and begin processes of healing.  Delusions of unworthiness are shattered as I admit my own goodness and my own power.
  • ·      My spirituality is shaped.  I am given a context to understand discipleship more deeply and to put my faith in practice.
  • ·      I recognize my connectedness with all people.  I begin to grasp the reality that I am not free unless all are free.
  • ·      I witness and believe in the power of community. To build our movement we build relationship, in relationship comes trust, though trust we find the courage to take risk, in our willingness to take risks for what we believe we realize our capacity to change the world.

Throughout my time in DC I am emptied I many ways; emptied of my daily routine and preoccupations, emptied of food, comfort, and my own personal agenda. Yet amidst this emptiness I am nourished and filled in the most extraordinary way; nourished by community and filled with love.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for the important role that each of you hasplayed in my life.  I am so very grateful.

Sincerely,

Chantal



Link to two minute video with clips from fast:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWBafjeYQXg&feature=player_embedded

Link to 12 minute video about January 11th action:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYPdfIasyGE

I started fasting Wednesday at 10 pm and hope to continue till sometime Saturday. I’m 73 years old, from Bethesda, Maryland. Are there any plans for fasters to meet up at the White House?

I’m pretty hungry, but nothing that happens to me will even come close to what my country is doing, in my name, to our prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. i want to reduce my responsibility for what the United States is doing to them as much as I can. Sharing their hunger is the very least I can do.

- Steve L.

WITNESS AGAINST TORTURE

www.witnesstorture.org

 

Press Advisory - For Immediate Release, January 10, 2014

Press Contacts: Matt Daloisio, daloisio@earthlink.net201-264-4424

Jeremy Varon, Jvaron@aol.com732-979-3119

 

Make Guantanamo History: Activists Fast & Rally in

Washington, D.C. to Close the Torture Prison

WASHINGTON, D.C. — January 11 marks the beginning of the thirteenth year of the operation of the US detention detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.  Activists from throughout the country have gathered in Washington, D.C. this week to engage in street theatre, demonstrations, fasting, and direct action to demand that Guantanamo be closed immediately. 

As part of these activities, Witness Against Torture will gather today, Friday, January 10, at 12 noon at the White House.   

Furthermore, a larger coalition of human rights and grassroots groups will rally at the White House on Saturday, January 11 at noon, followed by a “detainee procession” through the streets of Washington.

Responding to the hunger strike of the men at Guantanamo and global solidarity with their plight, the Obama administration has at last resumed the transfer of innocent men from the prison and renewed its pledge to shutter it. Nevertheless, the administration remains far from fulfilling its promise.  The torture of indefinite detention without charge or trial and the force-feeding of hunger strikers continues daily.

Since the hunger strike started in February, members of Witness Against Torture have participated in a rolling fast in solidarity with the prisoners.  This week in Washington, we participate in anti-torture activities, which include a group fast of several dozen people, a national solidarity fast, and street protests in the nation’s capital.  On January 11, anti-Guantanamo protests and vigils will take place throughout the country, including in Los Angeles, CA, Boston MA, Chicago IL, Santa Monica, CA Erie, PA, and Cleveland, OH.

“Through their hunger strike the prisoners in Guantanamo have again made the prison a matter of broad public concern and presidential action,” says Chris Knestrick, an organizer with Witness Against Torture. “But indifference or even hysteria can again set in.  We need to close Guantanamo, without delay, and we’ll keep saying that to the President until he fulfills his promise and it’s done.”

“We know that Guantanamo is a crime and a sin,” says Chrissy Nesbitt, a faster from North Carolina. “We need to make Guantanamo history. We can do this by both closing the prison and facing up to torture as part of the U.S. national experience.  In doing so, we must demand accountability and restitution to the victims of torture.”

Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. January 2014 will be the eighth year the group has gathered annually in Washington, DC to call for justice and accountability. To learn more, visit www.witnesstorture.org

Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie Catholic Worker

Jan 6-13. 5:15PM to 5:45PM at the federal building.

Contact: annemccosb@yahoo.com


Saratoga, Florida

Saratoga Peace Alliance

Jan 5-10 12PM-1PM at the downtown post office.

Contact: linda@scolex.org


Boston, Massachusetts

Committee for Peace and Human Rights

Jan 11 1-2PM at Park Street Station on the Boston Common

Contact: susanbmcl@gmail.com


Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo

Jan 10 4:30-5:30PM  Dearborn and Jackson

Facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/347886498681792/


12 Years Too Many, An Evening to discuss and dissent

Jan 11 6:30PM-9:30PM

Chicago Danz Theatre

Facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/546163325473444/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar


Santa Monica, California

Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace

Jan 11 3PM-4PM Santa Monica Palisades Park

Contact: andy.icujp@gmail.com


London

London Guantanamo Campaign

Jan 11 2-4PM Trafalgar Square, outside National Gallery

Facebook page: for the event https://www.facebook.com/events/246710665485484/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar


The World Can’t Wait Tour with Andy Worthington and Debra Sweet

Jeff Kaye, Michael Kearns, Jason Leopold, and Todd Pierce will join Andy and Debra

Jan 9-17 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1444264625791804/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

I’ve been fasting nearly every Wednesday since the beginnging of September. Until it got chilly in Michigan, I would sit with a hunger strike sign in an area on the University of Michigan’s campus with many passerbys for about an hour. Usually at least two people would stop and talk to me and inquire about my purpose and the sign. Coincidentally, Sept. 11 was on aWednesday this fall, and that day I spoke to seven people.
None of the individuals were ever hostile or negative, and nearly all of them were actually supportive of the cause and expressed admiration. I was often vexed that the people I spoke with were rarely students - maybe they were always in a rush to class.
Some days I fasted 36 hours - some days 12, but I put most of my time and energy into writing letters to prisoners, congressmen and Senators. I also made multiple phone calls to the White House, Southern Command, and Department of Defense. All phone calls were usually cordial, except for a guy from Southern Command who seemed to be a supporter of the prison. He questioned, “You really want to release some of the guys here?” and defended, “They’d be just as likely to blow your house up than go home. They throw their urine and feces at us and shout epithets.”
I’ve grown from my participation, and managed to write all of the prisoners who were posted on the Amnesty International list. I also got feedback from my congressman and Senators expressing their willingness to close the prison.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I can’t imagine what life in Guantanamo must be like.
Sincerely,
Naim
Join the Rolling Fast here:

CCR client Djamel Ameziane has been sent from Guantánamo to Algeria against his will and in violation of international law. He is now being held in secret detention and is at risk. Djamel is an innocent man who has suffered detention at Guantánamo for over a decade, despite having been cleared by both President Bush and President Obama.

On Friday, December 6, in front of the Algerian embassy in NYC, representatives from CCR, Witness Against Torture, and World Can’t Wait demonstrated to call on the Algerian government to release Djamel immediately, and to respect and protect his human rights.

On the evening of Friday, December 20th, 2013 a group of activists brought attention to the issue of solitary confinement and Guantanamo Bay at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. The activists peacefully marched to the front of the tree while singing a remixed version of “O Come, All Ye Faithful”. The caroling began at the East entrance of 30 Rockefeller Plaza where tourists and families were gathered taking pictures of the Christmas tree, and ended on the South side of the street after security asked the protesters to move.

Six of the activists wore orange jumpsuits to represent different detainees from Guantanamo Bay. These activists said 2 to 3 lines that were repeated using people’s mics, detailing the conditions and stories of the detainees whom they were remembering that night. For example, Shaker Aamer who was sent to Guantanamo in 2002 and has been cleared for release; or Saifurah Palacha, who used to own two businesses in New York City and has never been charged with a crime. Both have illnesses that are being left untreated.

Two of the activists led a powerful mic check that outlined the reasons for the group being in that location. The mic check brought attention to the 160 prisoners held in Guantanamo, men and women held in deportation centers and the 80,000 prisoners who are in “the box”. The mic check brought specific attention to a culture that ultimately allows torture while it indulges in holiday festivities. The lyrics of Christmas songs were changed to remember that this is a time of the year when solidarity is needed the most. If we must sing, let us sing to those who society has forgotten. If we must pray, let us pray for those who have been forgotten. If folks choose to celebrate their love of life more than ever during this time of the year, then let us also choose to celebrate and fight for those whose right to celebrate life has been taken away. The activists sang the songs listed below to bring light to this injustice. As the mic check said, How does solitary confinement rehabilitate people in our community? 

President Obama broke his campaign promises of closing the prison. We are demanding that the government closes Gitmo and that the prisoners are treated with humanity, justice and respect during that process. We demand an end to torture, an end to solitary confinement, and the closing of Guantanamo Bay!

While hundreds gathered in front of a tree that holds 45,000 multicolored lights, the prisoners in Guantamano had nothing but scraps of paper to create a blue lantern. To them that lantern was a way of sharing their light to the world. One of the songs, a remix to “Silent Night” asked the prisoners “When was the last time you looked at the stars?”. The Blue Lantern Project is determined to continue shedding light on the issues of criminalization, torture, and injustices; especially in cultural spaces through art and direct action. The Blue Lantern Project does this as a way of signifying that Americans are complicit in allowing our government to commit atrocities in our name. We may not indulge in a culture of consumerism and festivities without acknowledging that there is also a deep seeded culture of torture in the United States.

Below find the lyrics to the songs and ways to take action:

Lyrics:

"O Come All Ye Faithful"

Oh, come, all my people,
All we want is freedom!
Oh come ye, oh come ye
Stop torture tonight!

"Silent Night"

Silent night, violent night
As we sing, as you fight,
Round your people free from those bars,
When was the last time you looked at the stars?
When will justice be born?
When will justice be born?

Silent Night, violent night,
As we sing, as you fight,
Muslim brothers with you we rise,
Close Guantanamo, close it tonight, 
When will justice be born?
When will justice be born?

Here’s what you can do:

About Guantanamo: Call or email your congressperson to ask them to sign on to Rep. Jim Moran’s (D-VA) “Dear Colleague” letter to President Obama.
Chuck Schumer: 202-224-6542
Kirsten Gillibrand: 202-224-4451
U.S. Southern Command: 305-437-1213

About NY State: Write to the Governor at,

The honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, 
NYS Capital Building
Albany, NY 12224

Visit nycaic.org for information on NY State.

Stay updated and joint the movement:

closegitmo.net

witnesstorture.org

On Facebook: The Blue Lantern Project 

For more information on this action, please contact Amanda Burgos at mandieburgos@gmail.com