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Activists, lawyers to rebuke Obama publicly: 8th Gitmo anniversary

Activists and detainee lawyers demand that President Obama uphold his pledge to close the Guantanamo "war on terror" prison. With a rally and march in Washington D.C. planned for January 11, on the eighth year of the prison's inception, they publicly oppose any plan for holding prisoners without charge or trial in the U.S.

On January 22, 2009, after signing the Executive Order to close Guantanamo, President Obama said: "This is me following through ... on an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct not just when it's easy but also when it's hard."

Witness Against Torture members will rally in front of the White House at 11:45 a.m. using street theater to protest the lack of progress toward justice for detainees since Obama took office. Speeches will demand the true change the administration promised. The event kicks off a 12-Day Fast for Justice to end on January 22-- the Obama administration's self-declared, and now-voided, deadline for closing Guantanamo, the group said.

"Obama promised to break with the Bush administration," says Matt Daloisio of Witness Against Torture. "But in so many areas-- from the continued use of rendition, to the ongoing detention of innocent men at Guantanamo, to the refusal to prosecute alleged torturers-- he has sustained the policies of his predecessor. And he is in the process of expanding these policies at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan. As fear of terrorism again grips the nation, we need to stand more firmly on the principles of justice and the rule of law, and not go further down the disastrous path of the last eight years."

After the demonstration, activists will stage a Guantanamo prisoner procession to the National Press Club. There activists will join the Center for Constitutional Rights for a press briefing featuring detainee lawyers. Led by CCR Executive Director Vince Warren, it will include a reading of letters from released and exonerated Guantanamo detainees calling for the prison's closure and justice for all detainees.


Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that originated in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. It engages in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. For the first 100 days of the Obama administration, the group held a daily vigil at the White House, encouraging the new President to uphold his commitments to shut down Guantanamo.

From Witness Against Torture website:

When President Obama signed the Executive Order calling for Guantanamo's closure, we felt as though we had won - that the long years of arguing against torture (of all things), of demonstrating, of railing, were over. We dared to believe that a new day had dawned. Soon, however, our optimism faded to feelings of frustration and betrayal. The administration has dragged its feet and continued to trample on the lives of the men - real people, not merely abstract "others" - at Guantanamo... So, it is with resolute-- but heavy-- hearts that we in Witness Against Torture once again turn our attention to the sad business of marking January 11, 2010 and the eighth year of torture, abuse and detention at Guantanamo. (emphasis mine-BG)

ABOUT the VIDEO: Featured on the Witness Against Torture website, the video features images from a previous White House demonstration, narration on the group's perspectives, and the song "Mad World" from the movie Donnie Darko:

To learn more visit

Source: Witness Against Torture, Contacts: Frida Berrigan, Jeremy Varon


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