International Delegation Travels to Guantanamo, Cuba to Protest Infamous US Prison
Delegates include mother of current prisoner, former Guantanamo detainee, and high-level US peace activists
On January 9-13, a first-ever international delegation of former prisoners, families of current prisoners, US lawyers and human rights activists will travel to Guantanamo, Cuba to hold a conference on prison abuses and march to the Cuban-side security gate of the US Naval Base to call for the closure of the illegal prison. The protest in Cuba is part of the January 11 International Day to Shut Down Guantanamo, the day that marks the 5-year anniversary of the first prisoners being sent to Guantanamo.
“I am traveling all the way from Dubai because my heart is overflowing with grief over the abuse and ongoing detention of my son,” says Zohra Zewawi, who claims her son has been tortured and blinded in one eye during his detention, and has never been charged or tried. Her son was imprisoned in September 2002 and is still a prisoner in Guantanamo. Asif Iqbal, a former detainee who was freed on no charges after years of abuse, is coming to show his support for the basic rights of detainees.
“All prisoners deserve humane treatment and fair trials, which is not happening in Guatanamo,” says retired US Army Colonel and delegate Ann Wright. “US federal courts, not military commissions, should hear the cases against those charged with terrorist acts and the infamous prison in Guantanamo should be immediately shut down.”
The group, organizing by US groups CODEPINK: Women for Peace and Global Exchange, will hold a press conference in Havana on January 9, a conference in Guantanamo on January 10 on prison conditions and international law, and then on January 11 will march from the center of Guantanamo to the security gate of the US Naval Base where the prison is located to hold an interfaith service and call for the closing of the prison. The group will then travel to Havana to debrief the press on January 13. A smaller group will then travel to the US to lobby Congress to shut the prison, restore Habeas Corpus, repeal the Military Commissions Act, and give all detainees fair trials or release them.
In both Guantanamo and Havana, the award-winning film Road to Guantanamo will be screened, with a post-showing dialogue with e film co-producer Mat Whitecross and former prisoner Asif Iqbal, whose horrific story of detention is portrayed in the docu-drama.
The 12-person delegation also includes renowned US “peace mom” Cindy Sheehan whose son was killed in the war in Iraq; Adele Welty whose firefighter son was killed on 9/11; US human rights/peace leader Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange and CODEPINK; retired US Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright who resigned over the invasion of Iraq; and legal director of the US Center for Constitutional Rights Bill Goodman who has taken the cases of Guantanamo detainees to the US Supreme Court.
On January 11, the International Day to Shut Down Guantanamo, protests will be held all over the world, including England, Australia and Holland. In the US major protests will take place in Washington DC and New York City, plus dozens of cities throughout the country, including outside the US Southern Command in Miami.
For interviews with delegates traveling to Cuba, contact Medea Benjamin by phone or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about US and other international protests on January 11, see www.witnesstorture.org or contact Matt Daloisio, 201-264-4424.