[pjw] REPORT BACK: Guantanamo at 20: Friday rally #94 since stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Jan 8 17:10:22 EST 2022

Hello again Iraq Affinity Group supporters

We held an extended Friday rally last night (starting at 4:30 PM) and were 
joined by so many people from Amnesty International that we had in 
attendance the largest crowd so far under COVID-- sixteen people. One of 
them was an ex-guard from the prison camp at Guantanamo who as I said 
"opened his mind about closing it down." We had a few hecklers ranting on 
about America and "those people," but most interactions with the public 
were positive, including a few people who took fact sheets and a number of 
cars honking their horns in support. Despite weather predictions, it did 
not rain on us!

Most of the announcements were focused on the 20 year anniversary of 
Guantanamo. Actually, you can find most of this information in the fact 
sheet posted here:


So, here we go:

--Over 770 people were housed in Guantanamo. Only 39 remain.

--Only 8 were convicted, 3 of those convictions were overturned.

--13 people have been cleared for release but President Biden hasn't
   moved them out of the prison yet.

--9 people have died in custody.

--86% of those brought in were there because the US put out bounties and
  neighbors would turn in neighbors so settle disputes.

--President Trump said he would "fill Guantanamo up with bad guys" but
   actually released one prisoner.

---This means four presidents-- GW Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and
   now Joe Biden, have all failed to close the prison.

--As noted in last week's news, President Biden signed the National
   Defense Authorization act in late December, which prohibits him
   from spending money to shut down Guantanamo.

--Amnesty International and other groups are holding a virtual rally
   on Tuesday Jan 11 (the actual 20th anniversary) at 11 AM PDT:

--While people were contemplating the attack on democracy that happened
   on Jan. 6 last year, I've heard no mention of the 20 year attack on
   democracy represented by Guantanamo and the perpetual war leading
   to the perpetual incarceration and human rights abuses there.

In other news:

--The US shot down three drones in Iraq which it felt were threats to its 
bases, after all combat operations (and in theory all troops, before they 
were converted to "advisors") were supposed to be gone by December 31:


--The five permanent UN Security Council members including the US made a 
joint statement that nobody should fight a nuclear war, which is 
encouraging but was likely prompted by the ongoing Iran nuclear deal talks 
(and not the "secret" existence of Israeli nukes).


In local news, a Gresham officer and Multnomah County Sheriff's Deputy 
kicked off the new year by shooting and killing a bank robbery suspect on 
Tuesday. The Deputy is actually a former Portland officer who just 
transferred (back) to the Sheriff's office in September, and who was 
involved in killing John Elifritz in 2018-- Chad Phifer.


Along the march route, I noted that on New Year's day, the Israeli 
military responded to what was said to be two rockets fired from Gaza by 
launching attacks from boats and airplanes. As usual, much greater 
firepower and response from the country backed by the imperialist policies 
of the US.


For the money for human needs, not war segment of the march I noted 
(again, in the fact sheet) that Guantanamo is called the world's most 
expensive prison, costing over $500 million a year to operate and $13 
million per prisoner. Imagine spending that on health care and housing 
instead of human rights abuses and war.

I conducted a new experiment with the Ann Huntwork Peace Memorial Sign by 
covering over the receiver for the remote control. The sign actually kept 
running until around the corner from the Gucci store, but went out across 
the street from the Apple store halfway up the block after we turned onto 
Yamhill. As someone said, I shouldn't have said anything about it at the 
time, that was a sure way to end the experiment badly.

A huge thanks to Amnesty for cosponsoring and publicizing the event-- the 
larger-than-usual crowd was literally half made up of their 
supporters/members. It was uplifting to have them react appropriately to 
the announcements through the "bullhorn" (orange traffic cone on an oil 
filter wrench).

Do remember that for now we're continuing to be there every Friday at 5 
PM, masked up and distanced, hope to see you there sometime.


--dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

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