April 11, 2013 | National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Guantanamo Bay is a symbol of our nation’s use of torture. Closing the detention facility at Guantanamo is one of the steps needed to end U.S.-sponsored torture forever. For more on the hunger strike at Guantanamo, begun in early February 2013, see this Washington Post article.
When he first took office, President Obama promised to close the prison at Guantanamo within a year. More than four years later, 166 detainees remain at Guantanamo – 86 of whom have been cleared for transfer or release. President Obama has signed and Congress has passed legislation making it difficult to close Guantanamo. Recently, the Department of State shuttered the office responsible for closing Guantanamo.
President Obama needs to be reminded of his commitment. While legislation has made it more difficult for the President to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo – it is still possible. Guantanamo is a place where prisoners were tortured and where most continue to be held indefinitely without trial. Its continued existence is a moral travesty.
Please call President Obama today at 202-456-1111, and ask him to keep his commitment to closing Guantanamo. You can use this sample script to help you with your call:
“Hello, I’m _________ from ____________. I’m calling to ask President Obama to keep his commitment to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo is a place where prisoners were tortured and where many continue to be detained indefinitely without trial. As a person of faith, I hope President Obama will stand up for American values, like fairness, justice and respect for human dignity, and close Guantanamo.”
Looking to get your community involved?
Highlight the Guantanamo Bay detention center during religious services
- Use NRCAT’s interfaith prayer and bulletin insert during one or more of your worship services.
- Display an anti-torture banner – maybe your congregation already has one or you can purchase a banner through our online store.
Make your voice heard
- Use this sample email to urge the President and Congress to close Guantanamo.
- Send a Tweet to the President: @BarackObama @WhiteHouse Please keep your promise to close #Guantanamo. #CloseGitmo @NRCATtweets
- Gather signed postcards after services.
- Use our letter to the editor talking points to write to your local newspaper, calling for closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Your letter can be an important way to further the public conversation about torture and detention policies. (See these tips on writing letters to the editor.)
Be visible in your community
- Organize a public screening of NRCAT’s video “Repairing the Brokenness: A Faithful Response to U.S.-sponsored Torture.”
- Gather signed postcards at community events or public locations.
- Display an anti-torture banner or distribute bumper stickers.
January 11, 2013 was the 11th anniversary of the opening of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. For several years, NRCAT and other human rights groups have used the anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo to call for its closure.
On January 11, 2013 there was a rally, march, and interfaith prayer service in Washington, DC and there were events in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. Also, people of faith from across the country wrote to President Obama to remind him of his promise to close Guantanamo.
In 2012, NRCAT joined a coalition for a march and rally in Washington, DC on the 10th anniversary of the opning of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Read remarks by the Rev. Richard Killmer, our Executive Director, at the rally.
In January 2011, congregations and organizations marked Guantanamo’s 9th anniversary. Events included:
- Demonstration by the Illinois Coalition Against Torture – Go to a write up and view pictures.
- Members of the Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture participated in a vigil sponsored byWitness Against Torture.
- NRCAT co-sponsored an event with the Metro New York Religious Campaign Against Torture: “Torturing the Mind: U.S. Involvement in Psychological Torture.”
- We tweeted our prayer for the closing of Guantanamo on the day of the anniversary, and posted it on Facebook.
This issue is so important, and the prison at Guantanamo so symbolic of torture, that more than 40 heads of faith groups, religious institutions and other senior religious leaders sent a letter to all Members of Congress encouraging them to do everything in their power to close Guantanamo.
In January 2010, op-eds by faith leaders, in response to the 8th anniversary of the U.S. government transporting its first prisoners from Afghanistan to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appeared in several newspapers across the country. With press coverage of the Guantanamo detention center and U.S.-sponsored torture, you can further the public conversation with a letter to the editor.
View this piece on National Religious Campaign Against Torture.