[pjw] REPORT BACK: Portland snow-bound action to shut Guantanamo
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Thu Jan 12 17:04:26 EST 2017
Supporters of peace and justice:
Yesterday, 7 of us braved the snow and cold to stand up our 12-foot tall
Tower of Peace for rush hour commuters at the east end of Portland's
Hawthorne Bridge. We received many thumbs-ups and horn-honks, gave out a
handful of fact sheets, and definitely were seen by hundreds of people on
their snowy commute by bus, car and bicycle (go Portland!). The crew from
Amnesty international brought down a few signs and orange jumpsuits for
A few folks asked how'd we get the Tower of Peace down to the bridge?
We dragged the Wagon of Peace 35 blocks through the snow! Here's a
Big thanks to Dawn R. for helping haul the tower down there and back (it
took 1.75 hours on the way in even though it was downhill) and Barb G. for
plowing snow with a shovel on the way back (which only too 1 hour after
the Amnesty crew took 50 lbs of counterweights off the load--phew!).
Sadly, the wagon did not do very well-- as it picked up snow and ice the
front wheels began to buckle, so we need to either repair or replace it.
It's a Radio Flyer Trail Blazer 2200. You've seen it at many a protest
holding our picket signs and/or the battery-powered loudspeaker...
Tellingly, no news people came to check our the protest, and no TV station
(that I saw, watched all 4 channels) carried the photos we sent them of
the protest, despite their wall-to-wall storm coverage. I guess snowmen
and frisky puppies are more interesting than people who are standing up
for human rights.
If anyone needs hard copies of the fact sheet, we do have a few dozen
extras as conditions weren't great for handing them out, but you can also
get the nice laid-out version and see the photos at the event page on our
peace and justice works iraq affinity group
15 Years of Human Rights Abuses at Guantnamo-SHUT IT DOWN!
January 11, 2017
January 11 marks exactly 15 years since the U.S. facility at Guantnamo
Bay, Cuba opened as an indefinite detention facility. Although the
government has released hundreds of prisoners, as of January 5, 55 people
still languish in a facility that undermines the rule of law that
supposedly separates our country from chaos. Most are being held without
trial and over a third (19) have been cleared for release (CNN, 1/5/17).
10 await trial, and 26 are considered "forever prisoners" which means
most have life sentences without having faced trial (Miami Herald,
12/12/16). Only three who are there were convicted of crimes (Human Rights
First, 11/16/15). Many have been exposed to harsh conditions that have
been described as torture, including the force feeding of hunger strikers.
Many of these techniques were confirmed in the 2014 Senate report on
post-9/11 CIA "interrogations."
While President Obama pledged to close the prison at the beginning of his
first term in 2009, Congress repeatedly blocked funding to shut down the
site. Guantnamo has brought international condemnation upon the US, once
considered by many as an example of democracy and the rule of law. This
issue is of even more importance as the US has begun to normalize
relations with Cuba, and incoming President Donald Trump pledged to "load
[Guantnamo] up with bad dudes."
In January 2015, the New York Times reported that "President Obama's goal
... is to deplete the Guantnamo prison to the point where it houses 60 to
80 people and keeping it open no longer makes economic sense." Guantnamo
has been referred to as "the most expensive prison on earth," with the
Miami Herald reporting in 2011 that it then cost $800,000 per year per
inmate, climbing to an estimated $2.6 million per person in 2014
(Politifact, 12/21/14). Overall, the cumulative costs from 2002 to today
are well over $3 billion.
Amnesty International (AI), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR),
and others continue to call for the prison to be shut down, with CCR
noting in 2014 that the (supposed) end of combat operations in Afghanistan
"should guide the closing of the prison and bring a swift end to years of
indefinite detention without charge or trial." Amnesty is conducting a
campaign to get President Obama to close the prison before he leaves
Today in Washington, DC, AI, CCR, Code Pink, the National Religious
Campaign Against Torture, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms and
others had a mid-day rally
Rally promotional materials state that "Guantnamo remains a living symbol
of US torture and other human rights abuses, and a place of misery for the
59 men it still houses."
In 2012 on the 10th anniversary, this call to action was made, which is
Close Guantnamo and end abuses of detainees everywhere; end indefinite
detention and military commissions; charge and fairly try detained men in
federal court or release them; ensure accountability for torture and other
serious abuses; fully investigate, prosecute and provide remedy for
victims; counter Islamophobia underpinning Guantnamo and US detention
policies more broadly; and ensure security with human rights.
Continuing to hold people in an off-shore prison without prosecution is an
unacceptable violation of human rights, which is inspiring people to take
action against the United States in acts of so-called "terrorism." It is
far past time to shut it down.
In Portland, the Portland Close Guantnamo Coalition is working to ask City
Council to welcome released Guantnamo prisoners who have no host country
to return to. For more information see:
Local groups organizing today's action include the Peace and Justice Works
(PJW) Iraq Affinity Group, Amnesty International Group 48, the Portland
Close Guantnamo Coalition, Jewish Voice for Peace-PDX, Americans United
for Palestinian Human Rights, Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 (Portland),
Occupy Portland Elder Caucus and others.
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