Today, January 11, 2013 is the 11-year anniversary of Guantanamo Bay detention center’s opening and also the day that a vast coalition of groups will unite to uphold human rights and to protest President Obama’s inaction. President Obama ordered that Guantanamo prison should be closed within one year. That order was nearly four years ago, yet Guantanamo remains open with one hundred sixty six detainees. Although many detainees have been cleared for transfer from the center by the Obama administration, they continue to be denied justice. As President Obama enters his second term, he has not only ignored his promise, but has made it harder for detainees to be transferred by signing the National Defense Authorization Act’s provisions about Guantanamo. Amnesty International is holding an event in Washington D.C. where one hundred sixty six individuals dressed in orange jumpsuits will meet at Noon to march from the Supreme Court to the White House. There is also the option to stream the demonstration live on Amnesty International’s website. Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace is holding a silent vigil at 10am and rally at 10:45am at Downtown Los Angeles Federal building. These demonstrations are just some of many that will be taking place throughout the United States. Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, explains why the closing of Guantanamo is a concern for every American:
January 11 offers a sad reminder of our country’s flagrant disregard for justice — not only for Guantanamo detainees, but also for 300 million Americans subjected to separate systems of law here within the US. Our country loudly claims to be the land of the free, yet conducts pervasive domestic surveillance and imprisons more people than any other country on the planet. Meanwhile, torturers have escaped even mere investigation, and even draw lifetime paychecks on the federal bench! Justice, national security (which suffered due to torture), and the law all require prosecuting US human rights abuses to make sure they never happen again. With the NDAA offering our military the power to detain anyone without proof of crime, every American has a personal stake in this struggle.
These demonstrations demand that Guantanamo be closed, indefinite detention should be removed from the National Defense Authorization Act, and all detained individuals should be prosecuted fairly or released. The only way to gain accountability from the government and to stop torture and other abuses is to demand it.