New York City NY
World Can’t Wait initiated the rally in which we gathered outside the main branch of the NY Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street on January 11. The open violations of human and legal rights of those detained – secret “renditions,” torture by third country allies, “enhanced interrogation” via the CIA – shocked the world. And yet, the U.S. has upgraded Guantanamo. The demands of the rally were:
- Close Guantanamo Now
- End indefinite detention without trial, allow prisoners to defend themselves
- Immediate release and repatriation to join their families for 21 men who have been “cleared” for years
- Health care and financial support for those men who have been “freed” but unjustly denied years of their lives through detention outside the law
Co-sponsoring with World Can’t Wait were: Witness Against Torture, NYC War Resisters League, Peace Action NY State, Veterans for Peace NYC Chapter 34, Brooklyn For Peace, Pax Christi NYS, NYC Democratic Socialists of America (The Anti-War Working Group Organizing Committee), Veterans For Peace Chapter 113-Hawaii, World Beyond War, Raging Grannies, Granny Peace Brigade NYC, Veterans For Peace Chapter 90, Broome County Peace Action, September Eleventh Families For Peaceful Tomorrows, Uptown Progressive Action and Code Pink.
The entire rally can be viewed here.
The speakers were: Pardiss Kebriaei, Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights; Jeremy Varon, Activist, Witness Against Torture; Seth Farber, Attorney; and Andy Worthington, Journalist based in UK, expert on Guauntanamo. Performing were the NYC Raging Grannies and Bud Courtney.
This event benefited the Guantanamo Survivors Fund which provides money for medical care, rent, language classes, tuition and job training for those prisoners “freed” but left without resources after being unjustly detained by the U.S. Your donations are still needed. Please give!
A dozen people joined a signholding at Thomas Square (at a very busy intersection that catches traffic coming from downtown Honolulu). Most people seemed puzzled but there were those who supported it enthusiastically. The sign-holders spoke to some pedestrians and their summation was that those who were under 40 had never heard of Guantanamo while some who were older were surprised it was still open. An Afghan woman and her friend were amazed that we were doing this. Ann Wright spoke as did Martha Hennessey from Catholic Worker in NY who shared her own experiences both holding actions against torture and her arrest in 2018 with Ploughshares.
On Andy Worthington’s evening talk to the fasters: “Andy Worthington’s face was as big as the wall, and when he leaned forward to emphasize one of his many points, his glasses filled the screen. We, fasting members of Witness Against Torture, sat in the dark, in our masks, close together and leaned in to listen, and catch every word as he ran through two decades of history in under an hour…. Over all these years, there has been plenty of blame to go around. But, now, at the beginning of 2023, Worthington laid responsibility for closing Guantanamo and transferring the men cleared for release out of the island prison, squarely at the feet of the current president, Joe Biden. ‘Biden and Blinken [Secretary of State] need to accept responsibility,’ said Worthington, ‘they have two more years to get this done.'”
And on the march on Jan. 11:
“…The walk seems to get longer every year, and marching along and singing under the black hood, I was definitely winded and tired by the time we reached Lafayette Park across from the White House, but there was more to our day. We were met at the park by more activists and friends, and in short order were assembled as a line of 35 figures in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, each holding the name of one of the 35 men who remain at Guantanamo. Banners with messages like ‘Close Guantanamo,’ and ‘Justice for Guantanamo Survivors’ lay on the ground…”
Report by by one of World Can’t Wait’s Spanish translators who lives in Mexico City.
In Mexico, terrible violations of human rights happen every day and torture has been a common practice, but the men in Guantánamo and the torture there don’t seem to be of public interest here. Many people still don’t know how many men have been there, or the fact that most of them are innocent and not terrorists. Most don’t know where the prison is or why it opened in the first place.
Today I got to the US embassy in my orange jumpsuit with my Truth (WikiLeaks) t-shirt and joined the many activists that were getting ready to shout the message “Close Guantánamo”. Activists from both countries showed up, drew a big sign and used the speaker, towards the embassy, to ask Biden to close the detention camp detailing the violations of human rights by the U.S. government in the prison in Cuba and around the world. The media, like Canal Once, MVS Noticias and La Verdad Noticias were there too. Alli, an activist from AI, who now lives here video-called Mansoor Adayfi, an activist, talented author, kind human being and former Guantánamo detainee. He gave a message about the importance of taking action and I was honored to translate it to Spanish for the media and the people around us. At the end, he said that we, the people taking actions to close Guantánamo, are heroes and my voice broke.
I hope this is the year Guantánamo will close and that this will be the final year we have to protest. If not, I hope that this year’s protest, in Mexico City, will wake interest in people’s minds and hearts.
From Andy Worthington in London to Biden and world opinion
Andy Worthington, British journalist and leading campaigner for 21 years for the closure of Guantanamo, writes, “on January 11, the 21st anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, over 150 rights groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Victims of Torture, the ACLU, and groups closely associated with Guantánamo activism over the years — Close Guantánamo, Witness Against Torture, and the World Can’t Wait, for example — sent a letter to President Biden urging him to finally bring an end to the monstrous injustice of the prison by closing it once and for all.” The letter in its entirety and all signatories can be read here.