“Guantanamo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law,” President Obama said. With the hunger strike reaching 150 days on July 6 , the lives of these prisoners—along with our nation’s reputation, hangs in the balance.
By Medea Benjamin (about the author) 7/2/2013 opednews.com
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The senators most strongly opposed to the closure of Guantanamo include Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Bob Corker (R-TN), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL). In a press release, Senator Inhofe condemned the efforts to close Guantanamo as “letting the terrorists win.”
In a meeting with CODEPINK, Senator Levin’s chief of staff David Lyles suggested that activists focus on helping the bill pass the Senate. But he also emphasized that while all of these issues are being played out in Congress, we should not lose sight of the fact that the President still has the executive authority to transfer the detainees cleared for release and that we should pressure him to do so.
Activists throughout the US have been doing just that. Various petitions to the President have gathered more than 400,000 signatures. The most prominent was signed by Lt. Colonel and former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo, Morris Davis, and promoted by Witness Against Torture.
People have rallied and held vigils in cities and towns, flooded the White House and Southern Command with phone calls and, by the hundreds, fasted in solidarity with the hunger strikers. The faith community has called Guantanamo a deep moral wound, and 38 senior religious leaders sent the President and Congress a letter calling for the closure of Guantanamo.
Most dramatically, several U.S. citizens — among them military veterans — are now deep into open-ended fasts, risking their health and even their lives in their effort to see Guantanamo closed. In a dramatic action at the White House on June 26, Diane Wilson, 57 days into her hunger strike, jumped over the White House fence. Twenty-two others, all dressed in orange jumpsuits, were also arrested by refusing to leave the White House fence.
Hunger striker DIane Wilson after climbing White House fence, with police dog on one side and automatic rifle wielding policeman on other by code pink video
Amnesty International and other organizations are lobbying senators who are on the fence about closing Guantanamo. CODEPINK (link) is collecting signatures to hand-deliver to the new envoy Clifford Sloan (link). Witness Against Torture is recruiting new people to join the US solidarity hunger strike. And CloseGitmo.net is keeping people up-to-date on activism around the country.
“Guantanamo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law,” President Obama said. With the hunger strike reaching 150 days on July 6 , the lives of these prisoners–along with our nation’s reputation, hangs in the balance.