42 Arrested Protesting Obama's Broken Promise to Close Guantanamo
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Washington, DC: In a dramatic protest, 42 activists with Witness Against Torture were arrested this afternoon at the U.S. Capitol. The protest comes on the eve of the since-voided deadline President Obama had set for closing the prison camp at Guantanamo.
Those arrested on the Capitol steps held banners reading "Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives." Inside the Capitol, 14 activists performed a "memorial service" for the three men whose deaths at Guantanamo in 2006 were initially reported as suicides and callously described as "acts of asymmetrical warfare" by military officials. New reports provide strong evidence that the men may have been tortured to death at a CIA secret prison in Guantanamo.
The ceremony brought the names of the men -- Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani-- into the Capitol
Rotunda, where deceased presidents have lay in state. "We perform this ceremony to recognize the humanity of those whose lives have been
broken by our government's policies of torture and indefinite detention," says Jerica Arents of Chicago, Illinois, one of those arrested in the Capitol.
Witness Against Torture has called for an immediate, independent investigation of the deaths, as it has called for the criminal investigation of all those who allegedly designed, executed, and carried out torture policies.
Most of the 42 arrested at the Capitol did not carry identification, taking instead the names of men at Guantanamo through arrest and processing. "Taking the name of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif is a necessary and real way of bringing his story to Congress," says Joshua Brollier, a co-coordinator with Voices for Creative Nonviolence in Chicago, Illinois. "Adnan was tortured and continues to be held after eight years without charge or trial. It boggles the mind and breaks the heart. It's time for Congress and the Obama administration to make and fulfill a plan for his release." Brollier and others from Voices will continue in Washington through February 2, participating in the Peaceable Assembly Campaign to pressure Obama administration and Congress to explore alternatives to U.S. militarism.