Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Madisonians Fast for Witness Against Torture - Will Obama Really Close Gitmo?

Yesterday, some Madison peace activists gathered to recognize the anniversary of the start of detentions of alleged terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Some of these activists are fasting to bring attention to the lack of progress President Obama and Congress have made in closing Gitmo. Even if you aren't fasting, you can take action on this issue today.

For why she is choosing to fast, Janet Parker explains:
I am taking part in the Witness Against Torture fast this week to focus attention on our government’s policies of illegal detention, torture, outsourcing of torture, and drone killings in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to call for a change in these policies. Our fast to resist the crimes and abuses of the “War on Terror” began yesterday, January 11, the date eight years ago that Guantánamo was first used to detain prisoners illegally and indefinitely.

The fast will continue until January 22, the day in 2009 when President Obama announced that he would close Guantánamo within a year. That year is almost over, and there are still more than 200 men being held at Guantánamo, many of whom have been cleared of any crime. By international law, these men should never have been held without charge, nor should they have been tortured. We call on the president to make good on his promise of last January to close Guantánamo, to release those men that have already been cleared, and to process other prisoners through fair trials and sentencing under US and international law.

The disgraces of the U.S.’s “War on Terror” include outsourcing torture by sending prisoners to “black sites” around the world where they can be held and tortured out of the public eye. This attempt to sweep torture under the rug by moving it to other nations does not reduce our government’s culpability, nor does it correct or undo the travesties that have unfolded on US-controlled soil at Guantánamo. And citizens who know that torture is wrong should not be silenced by this tactic of outsourcing. We need to continue to be vigilant in defense of prisoners and others harmed by the wars our government is waging in our names and with our tax money.

My fasting this week is one way that I choose to speak out against my government’s illegal and tremendously damaging violent actions, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantánamo, Iraq, and here within our country. If readers would like to join the fast, please read more at www.witnesstorture.org and contact us locally at Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, www.wnpj.org 608- 250-9240. You can also read my fellow faster Bonnie Block's perspective that she shared with the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice blog.

Janet Parker
Madison, Wisconsin

You can read Janet's full statement on the Capitol Times website.

For a good summary of where we are after eight years, check out Truthout's fair criticism of Obama's stalling and "guilt by nationality." The ACLU posted their "eight years and counting" blog yesterday which includes this video "Justice Denied: Voices From Guantanamo" in which former detainees tell their stories of being captured and sent to Gitmo without trial.

Tell President Obama during this Gitmo anniversary week that action needs to be taken to close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention now.