About 200 protesters in the US capital marked the 11th anniversary Friday of the arrival of inmates at the US-run detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, demanding its immediate closure. The demonstrators marched from the Supreme Court to Congress to the White House in Washington, chanting “Close Guantanamo now!” and “Guantanamo has to go!”
President Barack Obama vowed when he was first elected in 2008 that he would close the prison camp.
But he was thwarted by US lawmakers who passed legislation banning the military from transferring prisoners to the United States for trial or sending them abroad. The United States also had difficulty finding countries willing to take the inmates.
Obama, who appears to have abandoned his plans to shutter the prison, last week reauthorised the law imposing the ban – to the frustration of rights activists who say holding inmates there indefinitely is a violation of their human rights.
“As we approach the inauguration, we’re tired of hearing excuses, solutions must be found,” Zeke Johnson, of Amnesty International USA, said at the demonstration.
“It’s a human rights issue, not a political issue,” he said of the inmates who face no prospects that their indefinite incarceration will come to an end any time soon.
“Try them or release them,” he said, saying the inmates’ continued incarceration is a blight on Obama’s legacy.
Video: Andy Worthington Tells President Obama Why His Failure to Close Guantánamo Is Akin to Dictatorship
More than 100 protesters, dressed in orange prison-issued-like jumpsuits, marched in a double-file over to the Ellipse, a 52-acres park, located just south of the White House Friday afternoon, demanding Guantanamo Bay detention camp be shut down and President Barrack Obama honor his word. The prison is in its 11th year.
One of the speakers at the event was the investigative journalist, filmmaker and author, Andy Worthington. He is the author of “The Guantanamo Files.”
Worthington underscored that Obama has failed to keep his promise to close the notorious facility. He said that 86 of the inmates currently held at the prison were “cleared for release,” but are still “indefinitely detained.”
Worthington labeled the situation a “horrible injustice” and urged the American people to put pressure on the President to do his duty and to uphold the rule of law. To learn more about Guantanamo click here.
Check out more photos here.
San Francisco Bay Area:
On the 11th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay's use as a prison for foreign detainees, protesters called on President Barack Obama to shut down Guantánamo Bay by staging a bit of street theater at Lytton Plaza on University Avenue in Palo Alto, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. (Karl Mondon)
Around noon, protesters gathered at either end of the bridge, some wearing orange jumpsuits to evoke images of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
Wearing orange prisoner suits and black hoods, members of the Amnesty International Club at Albany High School staged a protest on Solano Avenue calling for the closure of the U.S. prisoner-of-war camp at Guantanamo Bay.
"It's the 11th anniversary of the opening (of the camp)," said junior Nelia Leemans, one of 10 club members participating in the demonstration, which included a mock prisoner cage and took place under the BART overpass.
"It's unjust and unfair because a lot of people are held without trial and without reason," she said.
Protesters from World Can’t Wait were on hand to protest the employment of John Yoo by UC Berkeley at an event in Boalt Hall on the Berkeley campus. Some feel that Yoo played a role in the torture program at the United States prison at Guantanamo under the Bush Administration and should not be employed by the university.
On Friday January 11th about 75 people gathered at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago. In observance on the 11th anniversary of Guantanamo several organizations spoke out against the practice and policy of indefinite detention and torture by the U.S. abroad and here in this country. Participating groups were World Can’t Wait, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Christian Peace Maker Team, Illinois Coalition Against Torture, NATO 5 Defense Committee, Gay Liberation Network, Amnesty International, and Tamms Year Ten. The speakers covered related topics such as Bradley Manning, the need to stand up for Muslim Americans as a targeted population of FBI repression, the 5 young men known as the NATO 5 who are being held on bogus terrorism charges, Bagram detention center, and Zero DarK Thirty, a film that can oly be described as a propaganda film for U.S. torture. The rally and press conference emphasized the humanity of those still held at Guantanamo and highlighted 55 of the 86 cleared for release and yet remain in Guantanamo by having images of the cleared on posters and reading their names.
Press Conference in Chicago: 11 Years of Guantanamo! Shut It Down Now!
“I'm a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Motion Picture Academy clearly warns its members not to disclose their votes for Academy Awards,” states Clennon. “Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the film Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America's so-called War on Terror. In that belief, following my conscience, I will not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay or Best Actress.
The Academy also instructs its members to evaluate all the nominees strictly in terms of artistic achievement, but I believe that artistry cannot exclude or violate morality, and, if I follow my conscience, I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.” Mr. Clennon has been joined in his appeal by fellow Academy members Ed Asner and Martin Sheen, and they will be appealing to others to sign on to the letter. Mr. Asner added, “One of the brightest female directors in the business is in danger of becoming part of the system.”
Report from Seattle Chapter:
On Friday January 11 the Seattle Chapter of World Can't Wait and friends were out in front of the Regal Cinema in downtown Seattle speaking out against the disgusting and open promotion and support of terror by the new film Zero Dark Thirty. This date was important to us as the 11th anniversary of Guantanamo prison. Some wore orange jumpsuits, people passed out the WCW Zero Dark Thirty flyer, and there was also a large Guantanamo banner. Participants included Occupy Seattle activists and anti-war veterans. A speaker told the truth to the public and challenged them to act.
Moira MacDonald of the Seattle Times had written in her review "Zero Dark Thirty Suspenseful Even Though We Know How It Ends." that "Zero Dark Thirty is a long movie, but it covers a decade (beginning with heartbreaking sounds of 9/11), and makes the point that an operation like this requires many years, many plans, many lives". We felt Moira MacDonald and others who see this film must be challenged with what the horrific reality of this "war on terror" has meant for the world over the past decade, and whose lives were really sacrificed.
A speaker told the truth to the crowd coming in and out of the theater. reactions varied. Several people tossed of words to the effect of "Torture is great. I love America." as they ran basically away. One young man stopped and said "You know what? I saw that movie and I HATED it! It's just a big selling job to convince people how great torturing people is! I hated that!" A man from Africa stopped and discussed how we should have been protesting torture during the Bush regime. He was told about the activities against the Bush crimes that WCW undertook during those times, and also about the ongoing legitimization of torture that Obama is moving forward. Some people said "Yes we with you, I'm not going to pay to see that movie." Those were often urged to not just agree, but to check out the World Can't Wait web site information and get involved.