Close Guantanamo Protesters Promise to Keep the Pressure On After Obama Speech
No More Excuses – Anti-Guantanamo Activists Demand that President Obama Make Good on Promise to Restart Transfers and Close Guantanamo;
Vow to Keep Pressure on President
Witness Against Torture
May 23, 2013
New York City/Washington, D.C. – Responding to the hunger strike at Guantanamo, President Obama announced in a speech today his wish to re-start the transfer of men from Guantanamo and for the closure of the US prison. Anti-Guantanamo activists insist that the speech be followed by concrete steps — including the immediate transfer of men from the prison — to show that the Obama administration is serious. 86 men have been cleared for transfer and must be released now.
We agree with President Obama that "GTMO has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law." The President must use his executive power and political leadership to at last close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. He must renounce the unprecedented, illegitimate, and increasingly discredited Military Commissions as an unacceptable substitute for true due process; and he must reject any policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial, and commit to bring credible suspects within a proper judicial system. We applaud the courageous interruption of Obama's speech, which underscores the emergency situation at the prison, and need for rapid closure of Guantanamo.
"It should not take men starving themselves to have President Obama stand up for the Constitution and human rights.” Says Matthew W. Daloisio, organizer with Witness Against Torture. “We are more 11 years into the crime of Guantánamo and over 100 days into the current hunger strike. The promise to transfer those cleared is important, but without immediate steps to release actual people, it is only another promise."
“We have heard noble sentiments before from President Obama,” added Jeremy Varon of Witness Against Torture. “We will hold him to account. It is not enough to release those who should have been released years ago. Indefinite detention must end. And the rule of law will never be fulfilled in Military Commissions. Moving Guantanamo is not closing Guantanamo. All held in the prison must be charged, tried in legitimate courts, or released. We’ll be in the streets, at the steps of courthouses, in jail if necessary to make sure that Guantanamo closes.”
President Obama ended the Guantanamo portion of his speech today by asking the American people to "look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. Is that who we are? Is that something that our Founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?"
We may wish that this is not who we are. But we will be judged by our actions, not our speeches.
Witness Against Torture and other groups will continue their vigils, rallies, solidarity fasts, calls to the White House, and direct actions until Guantanamo is shuttered.
Since the hunger strike began in early February, Witness Against Torture has held vigils in more than 30 cities and towns, had regular rallies at the White House, circulated a Change.org petition — signed by more than 210,000 people — demanding the closure of Guantanamo, helped organize a briefing for Congressional staff; coordinated a rolling fast in solidarity with the Hunger Strike and daily calls to the White House, Pentagon and the US Southern Command; and committed acts of civil disobedience.
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