6 years on – Shut down Guantanamo now!
Shut Down Guantanamo – International Day of Action, U.S. Embassy Warsaw Friday 8am
On January 11th 1908 Mahatma Gandhi received his first ever prison sentence (2 months) in Johannesburg, South Africa, for failing to register as Asiatic. 100 years later, on January 11th, the world not only celebrates Gandhi's act of resistance against a racist South African State, but also mourns the continued existence of the notorious U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - 6 years since the first prisoners arrived to the detention camps as 'enemy combatants.'
There are over 300 prisoners at the U.S. detention centres who have spent up to 2,192 days in legal limbo, separated from their loved ones and forced to endure horrific treatment. To mark the 6th anniversary, human rights activists will be gathering in protest at U.S. embassies and other relevant sites in over 40 cities worldwide, from Warsaw to San Francisco.
In Warsaw human rights activists from different anarchist groups and other concerned individuals will gather at the U.S. embassy at 8 a.m., just in time to invite the embassy staff and people queueing for visas to join our call to 'Shut Down Guantanamo.' We are encouraging people to bring plastic spoons and fruit, vegetable, flower seeds to the demonstration so we can hand them into the embassy to send to the prison in Cuba. Some Guantanamo inmates have started illegal gardening projects at the various camps, digging the soil with their spoons and using the seeds from their food to plant on prison soil. We intend to join the visa queue dressed as Guantanamo prisoners and engage embassy officials in a direct debate about their government's atrocious human rights record.
Demonstrations throughout the U.S. are being organised on Friday, January 11th under the umbrella campaign, Witness Against Torture (www.witnesstorture.org), which is endorsed by Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and over 100 other groups.
Last year 40 activists assembled in Warsaw on this anniversary to take part in a street theatre action organised by various anarchist groups. A 'prison walk' was staged from the U.S. embassy to the Polish Ministry of Defence (www.wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/wiadomosci/1,53600,3833060.html?skad=rss).
Since January 11, 2001, 800 men from various nationalities have had to endure the brutally harsh conditions at Guantanamo - including waterboarding, physical beatings, and psychological torture. Just one detainee has ever been convicted (a minor charge for which he has already been freed), and only a few more still await concrete charges of aiding and abetting terrorism. Over 400 former suspects have been released. In 2006, the president of the Belgian Senate led an official inspection team to Guantanamo facilitated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Their conclusion was that "we could have only 30 to 40 real valuable cases."
One such prisoner is from Yemen. After hundreds of hours of interrogation and torture, accused of being a bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden, he eventually "admitted" to having seen Bin Laden five times: "Three times on Al Jazeera and twice on Yemeni news." His interrogators wrote the following in his file: "Detainee admitted to knowing Osama Bin Laden." This is just one example of how the U.S. military have manipulated and forced so-called 'confessions' from the suffering prisoners.
Nevertheless, there is hopeful signs that our campaigns are working. We celebrate the fact that since our actions last year a number of prisoners have been released, including four whose pictures we had on placards at the Warsaw action last year. These included British residents Bisher El-Rawi and Jamil El-Banna, abducted in Gambia in early 2002, and who have not been charged with any offence under British law since their repatriation – clear evidence that they were innocent from day one.
Through these global actions on January 11th, 2008, people of conscience throughout the world will demand the U.S. Government:
Repeal the Military Commissions Act and restore Habeas Corpus
Charge and try or release all detainees,
Forbid torture and all other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,
Pay reparations to current and former detainees and their families for violations of their human rights, and
Shut down Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and all other U.S. prisons overseas, including secret CIA detention facilities.
For worldwide action reports and photos please visit Witness Torture
For the Polish action report and photos please visit Polish CIA