On January 11, 2012, ten years after the first detainees werebrought to Guantánamo, demonstrations took place across the globe to protestthe continued existence of the prison camp that has come to symbolize tortureand indefinite detention. From Washington DC all the way to San Francisco,across the ocean to London, Paris,and Brussels—hundredsof protestors marched, demonstrated and chanted slogans, demanding justice forthe men at Guantánamo.
In Washington DC,at a pre-rally event at the National Press Club, former US judgeadvocate general John Hutson, stated, “It's not a rule of law unless itapplies all the time, and it's not a human right unless it applies to allpeople.”
At the main event, an estimated 500-750 people gathered in frontof the White House to call upon President Obama to keep his promise and closeGuantánamo. Several people spoke in support of closure, including TalatHamdani, a Muslim American whose son died in the attacks on World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He said, “Guantanamo is a shame—adisgrace for our nation, and we need to set the record straight by leading byexample.”
Several attorneys for the detainees also spoke, telling thecrowd that the detainees themselves were engaging in a 3-day peaceful sit-in todemonstrate solidarity with the protestors and to demand they be sent home orput on trial.
Despite a heavy downpour of rain, the protestors marched all theway to the Supreme Court, led by 171 individuals wearing orange jumpsuits andblack hoods to represent the 171 men still remaining at Guantánamo. More than half of these were cleared for release almost two years ago by PresidentObama’s Task Force.
The procession made its way back to the White House wherethe group Witness Against Torture had set up a mock cell with a single“detainee” sitting inside.
I had the privilege of reading a poem written by aGuantánamo detainee. Perhaps Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Centerfor Constitutional Rights, said it best: “If we roll up the Constitution every time that there's a difficultfactual situation, we might as well roll up the entire democracy.”
You can support the closure of Guantánamo by signing the petition here.