President Donald J. Trump has refused to close the barbaric detention center at Guantanamo. On the contrary, he made a campaign promise that “We’re gonna load it up with some bad dudes,” Because Guantanamo remains open and in operation, Trump could make good on that campaign promise.
On January 11, we will protest the continued existence of this infamous detention center.
The event will mark the 16th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo. Speakers will include Michael Rapkin, Esq, an attorney who represented two Guantanamo detainees; Shakeel Syed, a board member of the ACLU of Southern California; Jim Lafferty, the Interim Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild; Grace Dyrness, a founding board member of ICUJP, Daniel Norland, editor of Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo, and others. Stephen Rohde, a civil rights lawyer and Chair of ICUJP, will moderate the event.
Since its opening on January 11, 2002, Guantanamo has been notorious for its numerous violations of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (“no cruel and unusual punishments”), Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, UNCAT (the UN Convention Against Torture) and U.S. Code 2340(a). Guantanamo detainees were kidnapped by the U.S. government, arrested without charges, imprisoned without trial, tortured, and held in a state of perpetual imprisonment, with even those approved for release by the U.S. Department of Defense having no clear path to freedom.
The majority of the detainees at Guantanamo are guilty of no crime and have been charged with none. Their misfortune was to have been Arabs along the Afghan-Pakistan border in the fall of 2001 when the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan. They were turned over to the US for $5,000 bounties. Any Guantanamo detainees who are suspected of crimes, however, can never be charged in a duly constituted court of law because they have been tortured.
While the number of detainees at Guantanamo has fallen from a high of 775 to its current low of 41, its continued existence betrays U.S. claims to be an international beacon of human rights. It is also expensive for US taxpayers (in 2015, the cost per prisoner at Guantanamo was between $3.7 and $4.2 million, as opposed to $34,000 per prisoner in US federal prisons). And it has damaged U.S. national security, as it remains one of jihadis’ best tools to attract new recruits to retaliate against the United States and its citizens traveling abroad.
This event is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, CODEPINK, Courage to Resist, Defending Rights and Dissent, No More Guantanamos, Veterans for Peace, the Office of the Americas, the Peace Center of the United University Church, Out Against War, LA Laborfest and If the SHU Fits Collaborative.