[pjw] REPORT BACK/FACTS: Guantanamo 16 Years Later event

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Fri Jan 12 17:47:00 EST 2018

Supporters of PJW

Last night we had at least 14 people out (for part or all of the time) 
holding signs, handing out literature, and standing next to the Tower of 
Peace at the east end of the Hawthorne bridge. We received many thumbs-ups 
and "thank you"s, gave out about 60 fact sheets, and were seen by probably 
thousands of commuters in cars, buses and on bicycles. We faced pretty 
heavy rain for the first hour, and I forgot part of the tower so it wasn't 
fully set up until 3:35-- not too bad all things considered. (Remember, 
last year we destroyed the little red wagon of peace dragging the tower 
down through the ice and snow.)

I've posted the fact sheet for the event here and pasted in the text 
below. I encourage you to look at the online version as it includes images 
of some artwork from detainees which has become a lightning rod for the 
Trump administration.

I'd say most people were surprised or sad to hear it was 16 years the 
prison has been open. I'd put myself at outraged and wishing we could do 

Anyway, thanks to our cosponsors (Amnesty Group 48, Portland Close 
Guantanamo Coalition, Veterans For Peace 72), the multiple folks who came 
out from Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, and everyone who came out. 
I especially want to thank new volunteer Wayne for helping transport the 

Let's hope we don't have to do this event again next year.

--dan h
peace and justice works iraq affinity group


Serving Injustice for 16 Long Years
January 11, 2018

January 11 marks exactly 16 years since the U.S. opened its notorious 
detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although at one point roughly 
770 prisoners were held, just 41 people remain in indefinite detention in 
this legal no-man's land (Politico, 10/12/17). 26 --nearly two thirds--are 
considered "forever prisoners"  which means most have life sentences 
without having faced trial (Washington Post, 12/21/17). Five of the 41 
have been cleared for release, but President Donald Trump refuses to allow 
it (closeguantanamo.org/Prisoners). 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."

As President-Elect, Trump pledged to "load [Guantanamo] up with bad 
dudes." In November, he suggested the man who killed eight people by 
driving into them with his truck in New York should be put there as an 
"enemy combatant" even though he wasn't captured on a field of battle 
(BBC, 11/1/17).

One of the most compelling developments has been an art show at John Jay 
College in New York, featuring paintings and other art by detainees at 
Guantanamo. Many of the paintings were based around the ocean, despite 
many of the prisoners never having seen the ocean. When a hurricane came 
in 2014, the guards temporarily took down tarps that had been blocking 
their views (New York Times, 9/15/17). Once the paintings became 
internationally recognized, the US declared no more art would be shared, 
and the detainees no longer legally owned them (NY Times, 11/27/17).

In December, Defense Secretary James Mattis visited the troops stationed 
in Guantanamo to give them a pep talk about being ready for war (perhaps 
with North Korea?). His was the first such visit since 2002, and he made 
no mention about the fate of the prisoners (Associated Press, 12/21/17).

Guantanamo 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."

Today (Jan. 11) in Washington DC, AI, CCR, Code Pink, Witness Against 
Torture and others had a mid-day rally. Rally promotional materials say 
the goals are: "to close the prison, end indefinite detention, dismantle 
Islamophobia, and call for the immediate transfer of the cleared 

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 
making us less safe, not more secure. If we want to "make America great 
again," it is far past time to shut Guantanamo prison down.

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