Anti-Torture Activists To Occupy Washington; Hold 10-Day Fast


Marking the upcoming January 11 tenth anniversary of the first detainees’ arrival at the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, an anti-torture group said it plans not only hold a 10-day fast, but to also occupy Washington DC. Organizers of the Occupy event say it will run from January 2 – 12.

“To remember this travesty, Witness Against Torture (WAT) is planning 10 days of activities in Washington, D.C. demanding an end to torture and indefinite detention at Guantanamo, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and that the president reject the just-passed National Defense Authorization Act,” the WAT said in a press statement.

According to WAT sponsors, Hungering for Justice, includes “a 10-day fast highlighting the ongoing crimes at Guantanamo and Bagram. Dozens of activists are expected to participate in the fast in Washington as well as other cities.”

The event is also to coincide with the Jan. 3 jury trial, WAT said, of 14 anti-torture activists scheduled to begin in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

“In June 2011, the 14 stood one by one in the Gallery of the House of Representatives to petition lawmakers to uphold the Constitution by not making funding for Guantanamo permanent. WAT will stand with the 14 in the court room, outside the courthouse, and around the city as their trial proceeds,” WAT said.

On the Jan. 11 Guantanamo anniversary, WAT said it plans “A dramatic Human Chain from the White House to the Capitol Building marks the 10th anniversary of detention at Guantanamo. WAT joins a broad coalition of human rights groups in sponsoring this vigil, which will begin after a noontime rally in Lafayette Park.”

WAT said that during the rally and vigil, activists will be wearing orange jumpsuits and holding signs and other visuals demanding that the detention center be closed.

“Despite his campaign pledge to shut down Guantanamo, President Obama has continued the Bush administration’s practice of indefinite military detention there and at Bagram,” said Jeremy Varon, professor of history at the New School and an organizer with WAT. “Now, Obama says he will sign the National Defense Authorization Act, which extends this abusive regime by allowing the president to order U.S. citizens, as well, to be held indefinitely without due process on American soil. Not one more year – not one more day – of such policies is acceptable. Witness Against Torture is here in Washington to add our message to the ‘Occupy’ movement’s call for a return to a just political and economic system by demanding an end to the national disgrace that is Guantanamo.”

Witness Against Torture describes itself as a grassroots movement that began in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies.  “January 2012 will be the sixth year the group has “occupied” Washington, DC to call for justice, accountability and mercy,” according to the group.

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