Who are we?
“Who are we?” is a question that has plagued many of us when we see or hear of shocking, inhumane happenings within our family or city or country. Such events first throw us into a stupor, then raise the temperature within us and finally evoke action from us.
More recently in our country, such immense occasions of horrific violence, while so destructive of families and environment and alliances, have definitely raised the level of citizen participation. They’ve called forth a new leadership with courage to speak out for truth, for reasonableness in our politics, for moral conviction in action and adherence to the rule of law for everyone.
Such leadership and courageous resistance found expression from Jan. 6-13 in Washington, D.C., by Witness Against Torture, a group created in 2005 in response to the 780 Muslim men captured and detained illegally without charge in Guantanamo, a prison in Cuba but under the United States jurisdiction. These men were hauled away from their homelands in the Middle East, often for a bounty, allegedly guilty of some possible involvement in the 9/11 Trade Tower bombings.
They were hooded, cuffed and flown to Cuba, never having the chance to say goodbye to their family and not knowing where they were headed. In response to the illegality of these transfers, every year our Gitmo Action attracts activists from all over the United States and beyond in a bold attempt to raise the voices of the 40 men – parents, brothers, sons – still detained within the walls without charge.
In a congressional briefing hosted by Amnesty International, the Center for Congressional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei and others shared how the men are doing in Guantanamo today. She said the men are growing older and sicker. These men haven’t seen their family members for 10-17 years. Jan. 11 of this year, they had spent 6,210 days behind these bars, in cages, allowed no habeas corpus, and had experienced torture through various ways such as waterboarding, hanging from the ceiling by their hands, constant light with sleep deprivation, forced food feeding, etc. Besides there being no charge ever brought against them with any evidence, there is no representation for these Muslim men unless they have a lawyer.
Some of these men are artists and professionals in highly skilled arts, such as ballet. They now have no one to talk to, especially during this last year, when the position in the U.S. State Department and the Department of Defense to monitor the men in Guantanamo has been shut down indefinitely under President Donal Trump. We know that every prisoner deserves the human right to representation.
It is up to us U.S. citizens to bring justice to the men still detained illegally in Gitmo. We are complicit in this crime, because it is our tax money that is paying for this prison camp – $10,000,000/year for one inmate. It is up to us to provide a fair trial in civil courts, not military courts, or to release these men through congressional hearings. We must finally give them their fundamental human rights again. To work toward such actions, please call:
• Sen. Sherrod Brown — (202) 224-2315.
• Sen. Rob Portman – (202) 224-3353.
• President Donald Trump – (202) 456-1111.
• Vice President Mike Pence – (202) 456-1111.
• U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan – (202) 225-2676.
My theory comes from the Scriptural passage of the woman persisting with Jesus for her health. If we persist, (even if we persist like a mosquito) our hope grows toward a solution.
Sister Paulette Schroeder,