As the hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay approach their 100th day of refusing to eat this Friday, May 17, we urge President Obama to take specific steps now to release or transfer prisoners and close the prison.
More than 100 of the 166 prisoners at Guantanamo are participating in a hunger strike. More than two-dozen are being brutally force fed. We join with those throughout the United States and world calling for their release or transfer and ending the injustice of indefinite detention without trial. We also call for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison which has become a human rights embarrassment to the Obama administration and the United States.
President Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, but it remains open. While he has blamed Congress for the prison remaining open the law allows the president to transfer prisoners through a waiver and certification process. To make this process work, President Obama should immediately take the following steps:
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- Order the Pentagon to begin certifying transfers of prisoners out of Guantanamo. There are 86 prisoners already approved for release. Immediate action should be taken to release these prisoners.
- Fifty-six of the 86 prisoners approved for release are from Yemen. Their country wants them to return and has built a new facility for them. The administration should certify the new government of Yemen has taken adequate measures against al Qaeda and made the country stable enough to resume repatriations to Yemen.
- In 2011, Obama signed an executive order establishing extra review procedures – called Periodic Review Boards – for Guantanamo detainees to determine if continued detention were warranted. But the Periodic Review Boards have not been used. The Review Boards should be convened to review the cases of the remaining 80 prisoners and either charge, release or transfer them. These prisoners have been held for more than a decade without trial. This injustice must end.
- President Obama should instruct the Justice Department to stop contesting the more than 100 habeas corpus cases filed in federal court and obey court orders requiring the prisoner’s release.
- President Obama should appoint an individual within the White House to lead the effort to close the Guantanamo Bay Prison, once and for all.
WHAT THE PUBLIC CAN DO
It is time to hold President Obama to his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. He made this promise when he first ran for office and reiterated it again on April 30th. We need to join in solidarity with the hunger strikers at Guantanamo and close this prison. Witness Against Torture, along with Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights, have been leading a grass roots effort to end the incarceration at Guantanamo. They suggest people take the following actions:
- Share this video: produced by the Peace Poets and Witness Against Torture: Hunger Strike Video. You can share this video on Facebook from the Witness Against Torture Facebook page, while you are there “like” the page.
- May 17 Call the White House or the US embassy in your country. The White House comment line number is 202.456.1111
- May 17 Tweet-In to the White House: @BarackObama @WhiteHouse keep your promise to #CloseGitmo.
- Solidarity Fast for Justice: Choose May 17, 18 or 19 to participate in a one-day solidarity fast, and let Witness Against Torture know that you are participating.
- Congressional Briefing on Guantanamo: This past Friday, May 10, experts on the situation at Guantanamo took part in a Congressional Briefing that was extremely well attended. You can watch the briefing , and then call or e-mail your congressperson and senator to ask them to watch it as well – and support quick executive action to close the prison.
- More phone calls, email and letter writing actions: Call the U.S. Southern Command (305-437-1213) and Department of Defense (703-571-3343) to express concern over the hunger strike and insist on Guantanamo’s closing. You can call or e-mail your congressperson and senator to ask them to support quick executive action to close the prison as well. The Men in Guantanamo know of our efforts in response to their hunger strike and indefinite detention. Download and send this letter to a man detained in Guantánamo.
- Join the solidarity actions: Act in support of the 100 day hunger strike. Join the International Days of Action against Guantanamo from May 17-19 . . .
- New York: Friday, May 17, 5pm in Times Square between 43rd and 44th to do a mass sing along of the Hunger Strike Song.
- Washington, DC: May 17, 12-1pm, petition delivery and non-violent resistance, more than 300,000 signatures are being delivered to President Obama calling for closure of the Guantanamo Bay Prison, calling for immediate transfer of those approved for release and appointing a high level White House official to lead the effort to close the facility and ensure all those held are fairly tried in federal court. Please sign this petition if you haven’t already, and if you are a member of an organization or group that would like to sign onto the cover letter, let Witness Against Torture know.
- Chicago: Meet at Federal Plaza on May 17 at 4 P.M. for a brief rally and then hold a procession of people in orange jumpsuits and black hoods up State Street to Daley Plaza where they will read poems from Guantanamo prisoners and place the photos at the Eternal Flame.
- For more information on vigils (or to let Witness Against Torture know about a vigil you are planning), contact [email protected]
Statement of the following members of the Justice Branch of the Green Shadow Cabinet:
- Kevin Zeese, Attorney General
- Shahid Buttar, Director, Civil Rights Enforcement
- King Downing, Chair, President’s Commission on Corrections Reform
- Gloria Meneses Sandoval, Secretary of Immigration
- Jesslyn Radack, National Security and Human Rights Advisor to the President
- Michael Ratner, Director, Division of Civil, Social and Economic Rights
- Clifford Thornton, Administrator, Drug Policy Agency