After 13 Very Bad Years, Time To Close Guantanamo!
By Manar Ammar
Calls on President Barack Obama are intensifying to close Guantanamo, as it approaches its 13th anniversary. After the news broke that five detainees are being released, it seems now closer than ever for the President to keep his promise and shut Gitmo down.
The five men were released from Guantanamo Bay and sent to resettle in Kazakhstan.
“This latest transfer shows that the president has the momentum to finally shut down Guantanamo," Amnesty International said in a press release.
“This week’s transfer and resettlement of three Yemenis, in particular, is important progress that the president must build on. Although many of these men were approved for transfer by an inter-agency government panel in 2010, the administration cited the security situation in Yemen as a reason to keep them in indefinite detention. For years, dozens of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo have been in limbo with their lives on hold languishing in detention based solely on their country of origin." Amnesty added.
Pressure is mounting on the President to meet a promise he made over six years ago, but without Congress's agreement, the move was frozen. The conversation was once again opened after the release of the CIA torture report. While the media has sanitized its screens from any mention of the victims, Dick Cheney, who many consider to be an international law dodging war criminal, got more air time than any other Bush era official, declaring that going back in time, he "would do it again".
Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle that "We must never again allow our country to veer so far off course. To do that, we have to study where we went wrong." Feinstein fought hard to release the report and makes a vital point; In order to study what went wrong, the voices of Guantanamo's victims, survivors and their families should be included in the conversation. MSNBC Chris Mathews called the CIA Torture practices as the issue of our time, but blocking counter-narratives, would only result in half truths.
Commenting on the reactions to the report and in support of releasing the report fully to the American people, Law Professor Joseph Margulies, who was lead counsel in Rasul V. Bush- the case in which the US Supreme Court established prisoners at Guantanamo prison are entitled to judicial review, writes for LA Times "But what if, instead of vapid finger-pointing, we let the American people figure it out for themselves? What if we gathered everything about the program — not just the summary but the entire report, as well as all the underlying documentation — and let Americans make up their minds? What if, in other words, we tried radical transparency instead of mindless partisanship?
To help the American people grasp the complexity of the horrors that takes place at Guantanamo, they need to see and hear the torture victims and their families. Throwing a heavy veil on the Guantanamo men, who according to the report went through unspeakable suffering and still vulnerable to forced feeding, shields the perpetrators further and keeps the victims' cries hidden.
What we can do:
The Witness Against Torture community will gather in Washington, DC to remember the opening of the prison camp in Guantánamo. This January 11th, 2015, marks the beginning of 14 years of torture and indefinite detention. Right now, 136 men remain, half of whom have been cleared for release but remain held without charge or trial. The administration will not disclose how many of them continue to hunger strike and how many are force-fed.
The Witness Against Torture, an ally of CODEPINK extends their invitation to you to come to D.C. as the community gathers from Monday, January 5th until Tuesday January 13th, to fast in solidarity with the men at Guantánamo, especially those who remain on hunger strike, and to use our creative energy to encourage citizens and government officials in Washington, DC to see the humanity of the men in Guantánamo and call for the closure of the prison.
In Miami, groups will gather on the terrible anniversary and march to the headquarters of Southern Command, the center that operates Guantanamo, and demand that thirteen years of torture and thirteen years of shame come to an end!