Jan 10 2013

LA Activists Demand the Closure of Guantanamo on 11th Anniversary

Tomorrow marks the eleventh anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. The notorious facility received its first 20 prisoners on January 11, 2002. In the years since, shocking revelations of prisoner abuse, prisoner suicide and repeated desecrations of the Koran have dogged both the Bush and Obama administrations.

As recently as September 2012 Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a prisoner on hunger strike, joined 8 others who had died during their incarceration at Guantanamo. Military investigators reported that his death was self-inflicted. According to his lawyer, Latif stated, “…death [is] more desirable than living.”

Despite signing an executive order on January 22, 2009, to shut down Guantanamo within one year, President Obama has failed to live up to his promise. Obama faced broad opposition from Congress and even public dissent, as revealed in a 2009 Gallup poll showing that 65% of Americans opposed the closing of the facility. As recently as February 2012 a Washington Post/ABC poll showed 70% public approval for keeping Guantanamo open. In May 2009 the Senate and the House of Representatives voted to prevent any detainees held at Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to the United States.

At its peak, Guantanamo housed a total of 779 detainees from 28 countries, including 15 children, according to military documents brought to light by Wikileaks. Today 166 remain locked up in the center while 600 have been transferred to other facilities.

Despite the obstacles to his ability to close Guantanamo, human rights groups are criticizing Obama for not taking a stronger stand. Some of that criticism surrounds his unwillingness to veto the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. In approving the NDAA, critics say Obama hampered his own ability to shut down Guantanamo. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union stated, “President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before Inauguration Day… [h]e has jeopardized his ability to close Guantanamo during his presidency.”

GUEST: Hector Aristizabal, Los Angeles based activist and a member of the Program for Torture Victims, also a torture survivor himself

EVENT DETAILS:

Close Guantánamo Now!
January 11, 2013 – 10 11 Years Too Long
Friday, January 11, 2013

10 AM: Silent Vigil and Tableau
10:45 AM: Rally/Press Conference
Downtown LA Federal Building (Temple and Los Angeles Streets)

Find out more at www.icujp.org.

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