Day 2 of the Fast for Justice to Close Guantanamo

Witness Against Torture

Daily Update – Day 2 of the Fast for Justice

On Wed, Jan 7, 2015 at 1:29 AM, Matthew W. Daloisio <daloisio@riseup.net> wrote:

Dear Friends,

We have been fasting in solidarity with the Guantanamo detainees for over 36 hours now.

Most of today was spent on the streets – from the morning at the White House to the afternoon at the British Embassy and Vatican Apostolic Nunciature.  You can find images from today on Facebook and Flickr.

This evening we watched a powerful film on Fahd Ghazy – Waiting for Fahd.  We encourage you all to take 11 minutes to watch it, and then read Fahd’s personal appeal.

The community gathered here in DC continues to grow.  We are about 30 folks staying at the church, and our numbers will continue to grow as we start to settle in to a certain rhythm.

There is much work still to do, and it is good to be gathered in community – here in DC and around the country – as we struggle together, to learn…and act…and reflect.  And learn…and act…and reflect.

Peace

Witness Against Torture

Click HERE For Our Washington, DC schedule of events.

In this post you will find:

1)        DAY 2 – Tuesday, January 6

2)        “The Path to Closing Guantánamo” by Cliff Sloan

DAY 2 – Tuesday, January 6

During our morning reflection, we recalled Beth Brockman’s invitation, yesterday evening, to introduce ourselves and then mention someone or something we left behind upon arriving in D.C., and yet still carry with us.  Many people in our circle spoke of leaving behind beloved community and family members.  Beth then noted that prisoners in Guantanamo likewise have left behind loved ones, and that some have been separated from their families and communities for 13 years.

Before the reflection circle (and before the sun was fully risen), ten of us joined Kathy Kelly in an hour-long Skype call with about 15 young people in Afghanistan known as the Afghan Peace Volunteers.  Several members of their group were fasting from food for a 24 hour period. Despite intermittent breakdowns in the internet connection and the weighty, troubling issues raised, we genuinely shared warmth and hopes, along with information.  One of our Afghan friends asked if there was any evidence that a detainee who was tortured gave information which eventually protected people from harm.  Brian Terrell shared that false information, gained through torture, was used to justify the U.S. “Shock and Awe” bombing and invasion of Iraq.

We look forward to ongoing exchanges. One way to continue the discussion is through joining the Global Days of Listening Skype conversation which happens on the 21st of every month.  You can learn more about the APVs at their website, Our Journey To Smile.

Later in the morning we joined an action at the White House, along with School of the Americas Watch, to confront Mexican President Peña Nieto about the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa.  There were over 200 people there, some carrying Mexican flags, others blowing trumpets and horns, and all decrying state violence.

When our group moved just down the street to the Mexican embassy, the secret service began to push at us slowly with whistles and cars, ordering us to move away from the embassy and White House to the end of the block. As people resisted, eight of us from Witness Against Torture dropped to our knees in front of a police car and refused to move. After some peaceful confrontation, the police decided not to arrest us, but instead formed a new line of police, cars, and barricades in front of us to separate us from the embassy and hide us from view. Once Peña Nieto’s car entered the White House gates, we joined the rest of the group to walk around the block to Lafayette Park to continue the demonstration. We stood strong in the cold for another hour, in solidarity with the Ya me cansé movement.

In the afternoon, we suited up in our orange prisoner jumpsuits and hoods and visited the British Embassy as well as the Vatican Papal Nuncio. At the British Embassy, we walked single file and held signs and portraits in support of the release of Shaker Aamer. As we stood in front of the embassy, we broke our silence to sing a mantra/song created by our fellow WAT fasters, Luke Nephew and Frank Lopez of the Peace Poets:

Today is the day
Give Shaker your full embrace
Today is the day
Overcome your past disgrace
Today is the day
Lift the hood and show his face
Today is the day
Justice for the human race

At the Nuncio, we delivered a letter asking the Pope to offer to accept the prisoners from Guantanamo in Vatican City, a nation-state of its own.  While we stood in front of that building, we sang another of Luke and Frank’s mantra/songs:

Today is the day
You can use those papal keys
Today is the day
Bring in all the refugees
Today is the day
Help us to create the peace
Today is the day
Liberation and release

In the evening, we watched Waiting for Fahd. This film tells the story of Fahd Ghazy, a Yemeni national unlawfully detained at Guantánamo since he was 17 and who is now 30. It paints a vivid portrait of the life that awaits a man who, despite being twice cleared for release, continues to languish at Guantanamo, denied his home, his livelihood, and his loved ones because of his nationality.  Seeing the grief on the faces of Fahd’s family members, his mother, brothers, daughter has touched us deeply. We are galvanized to act, to tell his story, to share with the public, to tear down the veil of indifference and ignorance. If for one moment we can place ourselves in Fahd’s family, view his daughter and brothers as our own, we would understand how connected we all are to each other.

The Path to Closing Guantánamo

By Cliff Sloan

Jan. 5, 2015
WASHINGTON — When I began as the State Department’s envoy for closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, many people advised me that progress was impossible. They were wrong.

In the two years before I started, on July 1, 2013, only four people were transferred from Guantánamo. Over the past 18 months, we moved 39 people out of there, and more transfers are coming. The population at Guantánamo — 127 — is at its lowest level since the facility opened in January 2002. We also worked with Congress to remove unnecessary obstacles to foreign transfers. We began an administrative process to review the status of detainees not yet approved for transfer or formally charged with crimes.

While there have been zigs and zags, we have made great progress. The path to closing Guantánamo during the Obama administration is clear, but it will take intense and sustained action to finish the job. The government must continue and accelerate the transfers of those approved for release. Administrative review of those not approved for transfer must be expedited. The absolute and irrational ban on transfers to the United States for any purpose, including detention and prosecution, must be changed as the population is reduced to a small core of detainees who cannot safely be transferred overseas. (Ten detainees, for example, face criminal charges before the military commissions that Congress set up in lieu of regular courts.)

The reasons for closing Guantánamo are more compelling than ever. As a high-ranking security official from one of our staunchest allies on counterterrorism (not from Europe) once told me, “The greatest single action the United States can take to fight terrorism is to close Guantánamo.” I have seen firsthand the way in which Guantánamo frays and damages vitally important security relationships with countries around the world. The eye-popping cost — around $3