Sunday, January 12, 2014

Guantánamo Torture Exhibited At National Museum of American History #GTMO12

Saturday, January 11, 2014
Jeremy Varon, 732-979-3119jvaron@aol.comFrida Berrigan,

Vowing to “Make Guantánamo History,” human rights advocates from around the country marked the beginning of the thirteenth year of torture and indefinite detention at the prison camp with a dramatic protest at the National Museum of American History. 150 activists occupied the atrium of the crowded museum for more than two hours, speaking out against torture and calling for Guantanamo to close.
Museum Atrium
The activists hung banners, stood in stress positions in hoods and jumpsuits, spoke to the tourists, and with their bodies and voices revised the museum’s “Price of Freedom” exhibit to include twelve years of torture and indefinite detention as the bitter cost of the United States’ misguided pursuit of “national security.”

In a booming chorus, members of Witness Against Torture and other groups read from a statement that closed with the lines: “to honor freedom and justice and the struggles of Americans for these things, we must end torture, close the prison and make Guantánamo history.”

Chantal deAlcuaz, a Witness Against Torture activist from Anchorage, Alaska spent the two hours in an orange jumpsuit and black hood. She reflected that: “We came here today because we want to see Guantánamo relegated to a museum — to be shuttered and condemned, but also understood as an example of where fear, hatred and violence can take us.”

The museum protest followed a robust and spirited rally at the White House that featured speeches from grassroots activists, Guantánamo attorneys and representatives of national human rights organizations.

“It was so great to see the spirit of hope at the White House, in the streets of DC and at the museum,” said Chris Knestrick, a divinity student form Chicago. “We definitely moved closer to our goal of closing Guantanamo today. And the work will continue!!”

Since Monday, January 6, Witness Against Torture activists from throughout the country have gathered in Washington, D.C. to engage in street theater, demonstrations, fasting and direct action to demand that Guantánamo be closed immediately.  There were also anti-Guantánamo protests and vigils throughout the country, including in Los Angeles, CA, Boston MA, Chicago IL, Santa Monica, CA Erie, PA, and Cleveland, OH.
Protest in front of the White House before proceeding to the museum Jan. 11, 2014
Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 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 direct action. January 2014 is the eighth year the group has gathered annually in Washington, DC to call for justice and accountability. To learn more, visit

From CODEPINK's press release about the White House protests prior to the museum action:
Co-Sponsors of the event: Center for Constitutional Rights, Amnesty International, Witness Against Torture, Codepink: Women for Peace, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Council on American-Islamic Relations,  Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Project Salam: Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims, Reprieve, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, World Can't Wait, Defending Dissent Foundation, The Blue Lantern Project, CloseGuantá, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Interfaith Action for Human Rights.

Photos of protest march at the headquarters of the U.S. military's Southern Command in Miami, FL.

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