January 11, 2008

Sixth Year Anniversay of Guantanamo

Amnesty Interna
tional Members and Activists Across the Globe Mark 6th Anniversary of First Arrivals to Guantanamo

Hundreds of Orange-Suited Participants Urge President Bush to End Unlawful Detentions

(Washington, DC)--Led by Amnesty International, hundreds of activists rallied on the National Mall in Washington, DC, to mark the sixth anniversary of the first arrival of detainees at the U.S.-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Many participants, dressed in Guantanamo-style orange boiler-suits, illustrated the stress positions of the detainees by kneeling in shackles. Activists held signs urging the U.S. government to stop torture, halt indefinite detention without charge or trial and end the use of secret prisons.

"Guantanamo Bay continues to be the shameful icon of President Bush's disregard for basic human dignity and the rule of law in the so-called war on terror," said Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA executive director, who spoke at the event. "By assaulting core values that this country holds so dear, including the age-old right to challenge one's detention, and using techniques associated with dictators and despots, the president demeans and undermines one of his major objectives?democracy."

Other speakers at the event included Rev. Richard L. Killmer of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Demissie Abebe of Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International, Anna Brown of Witness Against Torture, Vincent Warren of Center for Constitution Rights and Rabbi Gerald Serotta of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. Amnesty International also highlighted the petitions signed by more than 100,000 ordinary people and 1200 parliamentarians from around the world urging the closure of Guantanamo and endorsing the Amnesty International action plan (see attached) to end human rights violations in the war on terror.

The international community is also marking the anniversary through protests around the globe including in the Philippines, Sweden, Paraguay, Bahrain, Ireland, United Kingdom and Israel.

Demonstrations occurred across the United States including in Boston, Seattle, Columbia (SC), St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Pittsburg, Corvallis (OR) and Waikiki (HI). "Today's protests and vigils are one more indication that the public outrage at the Bush administration's continued harmful approach to national security is escalating," said Cox. "Mr. President, the demands for respect for human rights are only going to get louder and more widespread. Shut down Guantanamo now and counter terror with justice."

Quotes by today's speakers:

Rev. Richard L. Killmer, National Religious Campaign Against Torture: "Alex DeToqueville said, 'America is great because America is good. If America should cease to be good, it will cease to be great.' The goodness of America has been diminished by Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, secret prisons and renditions of detainees to nations known for using torture. We are calling today for an end to these immoral and damaging practices."

Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America: "Torture shatters and defiles the very image of God, which our scriptures see reflected in each and every human being. The humanity of both perpetrators and victims is inevitably shattered by its use. Rabbis for Human Rights-North America believes that the abolition of torture, like the abolition of slavery, is fundamental to a free and ethical society."

Anna Brown, Witness Against Torture:"Today marks six years of torture, abuse and illegal detention for the men at Guantanamo--six years of uncertainty, pain and longing for their families and communities. Today we march and act and witness so that prison doors will open and the oppressed set free."

Demissie Abebe, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International: "We call for an independent criminal investigation to determine which members of the Bush administration are responsible for ordering the torture of detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons around the world. TASSC then calls for the prosecution of such persons for the violation of U.S. law."

Vincent Warren, Center for Constitutional Rights: "On the sixth anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at Guantanamo, the base continues to stand as a symbol of torture, disrespect for the rule of law and the abuse of executive power. Six years on, the U.S. must urgently move beyond Guantanamo."

For more information, please visit visit tearitdown.org.

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