Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Dozens of people gathered outside the UN Monday to call for the closure of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay. The rally was held to mark the United Nations Day for Victims of Torture. The protesters dressed in orange jumpsuits and marched behind a cage on wheels. Twenty-five people were arrested, including the peace activist Father Daniel Berrigan. Three of the arrested protesters gave their names as those of the Guantanamo prisoners who committed suicide earlier this month.

The following is from Witness Against Torture.

Three Activists Arrested With the Names of the Men who Committed Suicide at Guantanamo on June 10, 2006.

Contact: Frida Berrigan 347-683-4928
Amanda Daloisio 201-264-4424

Undeterred by inclement weather, more than 60 people marched in a solemn procession from the United Nations to the US mission to the United Nations. Carrying signs that read Shut Down Guantanamo, the group marked the United Nations Day for the Victims of Torture. The procession, which included rabbis, priests, nuns, college students and human rights activists, was led by a cage on wheels representing the Guantanamo prison cells in which over 400 men remain, some for more than 4 years.

Upon arrival, Witness Against Torture- a Campaign to Shut Down Guantanamo- moderated a press conference in which distinguished religious leaders, legal experts and the nephew of a Guantanamo prisoner addressed Ambassador John Bolton directly, calling on him to heed international demands to shut down Guantanamo. The press conference was co-sponsored by Riverside Church, Rabbis for Human Rights and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Immediately following the press conference, twenty five of those gathered sent a strong message- to end torture, stop indefinite detention and shut down Guantanamo- to the US Ambassador to the UN by blocking the doors of the building; saying they would stay until the international consensus against these illegal acts is respected, heard and acted upon.

While the activists were removed after 20 minutes, a new page in the movement to shut down Guantanamo was turned. Three of those arrested took on the names of men who died at Guantanamo- reportedly by suicide- on June 10, 2006. "With humility and sadness that I commit this act of nonviolent civil disobedience as Ali Abdullah Ahmed," said one of those who refused to give his own name. "Ali was 29 and originally from Yemen. Despite being held for 4 long years, no US judge ever heard his case. It is our intention to bring his name, and the names of Manei Shaman Turki al-Habadi and Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, into the US criminal justice system in the hopes that no more men die or are killed before justice and mercy are shown."

Witness Against Torture began as a walk to visit the prisoners in Guantanamo in December. Twenty four U.S. Catholics walked more than 100 kilometers to resist the war on terrorism and respond to its victims. Upon return, along with countless others, they initiated a National Campaign to Shut Down Guantanamo. For more information, visit: www.witnesstorture.org

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