Thursday, June 10, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Trial for Anti-Torture Activists Begins Monday (6/14), GITMO Still Open Under Obama



Twenty-Seven to Go on Trial for Protesting the Obama Administration’s

Failure to Close Guantanamo, Plan for Indefinite Detention, and

Refusal to Prosecute Torture


For Immediate Release, June 10, 2010


Contact: Jeremy Varon       M: 732-979-3119

         Helen Schietinger  M: 202-344-5762


WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, June 14 twenty-seven will face trial

stemming from arrests at the U.S. Capitol on January 21, 2010 — the

date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the

Guantanamo detention camp. The human rights activists will hold a

press conference outside the courthouse defending their protest,

condemning the Obama administration’s continuation of Bush policies,

and explaining their use in court of the “necessity defense.” The

press conference will be held Monday, June 14th at 8:30 am, across

from the Federal District Courthouse (333 Constitution Avenue, NW).


On January 21, twenty-seven people dressed as Guantanamo prisoners

were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading

“Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives.”  Inside the Capitol

Rotunda, at the location where deceased presidents lie in state,

fourteen activists were arrested performing a memorial service for

three men who died at Guantanamo in 2006.  Initially reported as

suicides, the deaths may have been — as recent evidence suggests — the

result of the men being tortured to death (see Scott Horton, “Murders

at Guantanamo, March 2010, Harpers).


“The continued operation of the prison camp at Guantanamo is

unacceptable,” Matthew W. Daloisio of Witness Against Torture. “If

Guantanamo was a foreign policy liability and stain on the rule of law

on day one of the Obama presidency, it surely is eighteen months



“The deaths at Guantanamo show how barbaric US policies have been,”

says Helen Schietinger, a defendant in the trial. “We are still

waiting for accountability for those who designed and carried out

torture policies under President Bush.  Obama can’t restore the rule

of law if he doesn’t enforce the law.”


The human rights activists plan to mount a “necessity defense” before

Judge Russell Canan. “We will be arguing that we broke the law only

after exhausting all legal means of opposing a much larger crime—the

indefinite detention, mistreatment, and torture of men at Guantanamo

and other US prisons,” says Jerica Arents of Chicago, Illinois,

another the defendants.


The January protests were the culmination of a twelve-day fast for

justice and an end to torture organized by Witness Against Torture in

Washington, DC. More than 100 people participated in the fast and

daily actions throughout the nation’s Capital.



Witness Against Torture formed in December 2005 when twenty-five

activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn

torture policies.  Since then, it has engaged in public education,

community outreach, and non-violent civil disobedience. To learn more



Frida Berrigan


No comments: