End 16 Years Of Injustice

Tomorrow Guantánamo Will Have Been Open For 6,175 Days, and on Jan. 1, 2019 It Will Have Been Open for 6,200 Days: Please Join Our Photo Campaign!

The Gitmo Clock, a Close Guantánamo initiative, which, on December 7, 2018, will mark 6,175 days since the prison opened.

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By Andy Worthington, December 6, 2018

Tomorrow, December 7, 2018, the prison at Guantánamo Bay will have been open for 6,175 days, or, to put it another way, 16 years, ten months and 26 days.

When it comes to thinking about how long that is, I recall that my son, who turns 19 in two weeks’ time, was just two years old when Guantánamo opened, and I try to imagine being held for all that time without any of the rights and protections that people deprived of their liberty in countries that claim to respect the rule of law normally take for granted — the right not to be held indefinitely without charge or trial, or, if seized in wartime, the right to be held unmolested until a definable end of hostilities.

At Guantánamo, the prisoners were fundamentally stripped of all their rights as human beings, and, despite various efforts to give them rights, that unacceptable position remains fundamentally true. As you read this, here and now, the only way anyone can get out of Guantánamo is at the whim of the president — and this particular president has no interest in releasing anyone at all.

To add to those fundamental rights that were stripped from the prisoners, many others — including the right not to be subjected to torture or other forms of abuse, the right to be allowed family visits, the right to undertake a hunger strike and not to be force-fed, and the right to engage in artistic endeavors — are also hallmarks of the dreadful lawless zone that is Guantánamo.

In the nearly seven years that the Close Guantánamo campaign has existed, we have tried numerous ways to highlight the plight of the men still held. We launched a Gitmo Clock in 2013, during a prison-wide hunger strike, showing how long it took for Barack Obama to resume releasing prisoners after he promised to do so, breaking a period of inactivity on his part, in which almost no one was released from the prison, because Congress had sought to impose restrictions on the release of prisoners.

We re-launched the Gitmo Clock during Obama’s last year left in office, when we also launched a photo project, 'The Countdown to Close Guantánamo,' when our co-founder Andy Worthington appeared on Democracy Now! with music legend Roger Waters, urging people to take photos with posters showing how long Obama had left in office.

That campaign was quite successful, but since Donald Trump took office, it seems, his toxic presence has made people feel that resistance — at least as far as Guantánamo is concerned — is largely futile. We ran a photo campaign in his first year, 'Donald Trump No! Please Close Guantánamo,' and this year we revived the Gitmo Clock to show how long Guantánamo has been open, and have been urging people to take photos wth posters that we have made available every 25 days,

In general, however, we would have to admit that there has not been a huge response — with one notable exception: in June, when we marked 6,000 days of the prison’s existence, and dozens of people sent in photos. You can check out all the photos hereand the most recent photos here.

Nevertheless, we’d still like to urge you to get involved — by taking a photo with the 6,175 days poster and sending it to us — and/or by taking a photo with a poster marking the next big date: January 1, 2019, when the prison will have been open for 6,200 days.

If I may, I’d like to leave you with an anecdote explaining why I think it remains important to continue to make a stand about Guantánamo, and to try to let Donald Trump know why his ignorant and insulting enthusiasm for keeping the prison open, and for not releasing anyone — even though 40 men are still held, and only nine of them are facing trials — is so offensive.

During the Vietnam War, so I’m told, an individual stood every night outside the White House with a candle, calling for an end to the war. The individual did this night after night, and eventually a major news outlet sent a reporter down to talk to them. The reporter asked, "Why are you doing this? Surely you know your lone protest won’t change the president’s mind?," to which the protestor replied, "I’m not doing it to change his mind, I’m doing it so he can’t change mine."