On Wednesday (August 2), the latest monthly coordinated vigils for the closure of Guantánamo took place in seven locations worldwide — London, Washington, D.C., New York City, Mexico City, Detroit, Cobleskill, NY and Los Angeles — with former prisoner Mansoor Adayfi joining us in a one-man vigil in his apartment in Belgrade.
Because it’s holiday season, campaigners in a few locations — Brussels, Copenhagen and Minneapolis — were unable to join us this month, but they’ll be back next month , on Wednesday September 6, when, we’re glad to hear, many of the campaigners involved around the world are working towards making their vigils as prominent as possible.
The vigils take place on the first Wednesday of every month, and began in February, when I asked friends and colleagues across the US, and in Mexico City, Brussels and Copenhagen, to join the monthly vigils for the prison’s closure that campaigners in London had been undertaking since September last year, drawing on a long tradition of Guantánamo vigils outside the Houses of Parliament.
In London, where the vigils are organized by the UK Guantánamo Network (involving numerous Amnesty International groups, Close Guantánamo and other campaigners), 12 of us gathered despite torrential rain, while in Mexico City, in burning heat, Amnesty International campaigners staged a visually arresting vigil in Parque México (Parque San Martín) in Mexico City.
In New York City, 14 people gathered, “including visitors from Leeds”, as Debra Sweet, the National Director of the World Can’t Wait explained, with other smaller vigils taking place in the other locations, including four key campaigners — the Revd. T. C. Morrow of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), David Barrows and Helen Schietinger of Witness Against Torture, and Steve Lane of Close Guantánamo — outside the Capitol, where the US’s lawmakers could, and should take action to speed Guantánamo’s closure.
In Los Angeles, where activist Jon Krampner has been holding solo vigils outside the Federal Building downtown, he was joined by local activist and author Diane Lefer, although no photos were taken, while, in Detroit, although Amnesty campaigner Geraldine Grunow noted that there were just four campaigners, she explained, “we got some supportive honking, and a very sweet young man drove past and then came back to thank us for being there,” and also took the photo.
I hope you find the photos of the vigils as inspiring as I do, seeing people from around the world coming together, as I explained last month, “to demonstrate the importance of taking a stand, and refusing to respond to the colossal injustice of Guantánamo either through silence or invisibility.”
I also hope that you can join us for the next vigils, on September 6, as we continue to call for the prison’s closure, and, most urgently, for the 16 men approved for release but still held to be freed, and for proper medical and psychological care to be implemented for all of the 30 men still held.
As I explained in a poster that I prepared for the vigils, as of August 2, the men approved for release had been held for between 313 and 4,940 days since the US authorities decided that they no longer wanted to hold them, which rather makes a mockery of the entire notion of them being “approved for release” at all.