As January 11, 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the interrogation center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, members and supporters of Witness Against Torture, an off shoot of the Catholic Worker, staged a noon day protest at Union Square to bring attention to an issue that has been wholly abandoned by both the media and the Obama administration as well as to recruit people a to much larger rally in Washington D.C. in January. Obama, you will remember, campaigned promising to close down Guantanamo and end the torture that has become synonymous with it within one year. That promise, like so many this man has made, has too been abandoned.
As I write, Guantanamo houses 171 Muslim men. The Obama administration has stated publicly that 98 of the men are innocent of any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, they remain in that hell indefinitely.
To dramatize the situation several Catholic Workers and their supporters donned the infamous orange jump suits and black hoods worn at torture centers around the world and stood silent and immobile for the two-hour demonstration. Vision is diminished under such a hood but, as can happen in such circumstances, one’s hearing can became keener. Hundreds of people walked by and while most gave a glance and kept on walking, many took pictures or simply stared in silence as if trying to make sense of it. A few were hostile. “They should shoot them all, “ said one man, his voice dripping with contempt. “Why aren’t you standing up for me?, questioned another incoherently. For a long while a smug 20 something hipster jackass wearing sunglasses and roller blades weaved his way back and forth in front of us waving a large American flag and saying “God bless America.” At one point he went up to every hooded protestor asking them inane questions in what must have been an attempt to break their discipline. It failed. Finally, he rolled away in silence, returning, I suppose, to wherever it is that smug 20 something hipster jackass’s wearing sunglasses and roller blades carrying large American flag’s dwell.
But this also happened: people came up and thanked every person standing there.
The rally in Washington, D.C. hopes to attract more than 2000 people, representing the individuals still detained without charge or fair trial at both Guantanomo and Bagram and form a human chain from the White House to the Capital. There will be buses to D.C. from cities throughout the Eastern US. If interested email the following: