[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 
the occasion.

> http://www.pjw.info/guantanamoaction011117a.JPG
> http://www.pjw.info/guantanamoaction011117b.JPG

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 

> http://www.pjw.info/towerofpeace_snowtransport.jpg

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 
http://www.pjw.info/guantanamo_15yl.html .

dan handelman
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 
office: <http://www.amnestyusa.org/CloseGuantanamo>.

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 
still valid:
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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