Today is the 10th anniversary of the day when the first prisoners arrived at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. It’s also the first day of a new campaign by activists to close down Guantanamo Bay for good. The campaign is called the 100 Days Campaign to Close the Guantanamo Bay & End Torture. Witness Against Torture, the ACLU, and Amnesty International are among the coalition of groups who are coordinating 100 days of actions aimed to pressure Obama to keep his campaign promise of closing Guantanamo Bay and ending torture.
From the 100 Day’s Call to Action:
“With Barack Obama taking office, we have a historic opportunity to reverse the disastrous policies of the last eight years. As activists who have been working for the closure of this illegal prison and torture chamber, we are glad to hear the President-elect’s commitment to “close Guantánamo” and “make sure that we don’t torture.” But we know that political promises can be little more than words without continuous, visible and effective pressure. We insist on action.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. With Obama on his way to the White House, we now have a chance to undo the damage done by the Bush administration. One of the first steps to regaining international confidence in the United States is to close Guantanamo Bay. Obama stated on Nov. 16 of this past year, “I have said repeated that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture, and I’m going to make sure that we don’t torture.” But what are words without action, right?
On its website, the 100 days anti-torture group says that they will take part in demonstrations, educate Congress and the public, and engage in nonviolent direct action. And their movement has already started. After a procession through streets of Washington, over 80 people began the Fast for Justice, a nine-day hunger strike at Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. The fast will be broken at sunrise on Jan. 20, when the fasters—in a spirit of hope and renewal—will join the inauguration-day crowds with their message that Guantanamo must close and torture must end.
Let’s hope these next 100 days are Guantanamo Bay’s last days.
UPDATE: It was announced today that President-elect Obama plans to close Guantanamo during his first week of presidency. This is promising news, however there still remains the issue of what to do with the current detainees. With about one week until Obama takes office, there should be some interesting developments soon.
photo credits: flickr via creativecommons.org