End 17 Years Of Injustice

The Revival of Resistance: Reflections on the 17th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantánamo

The Gitmo Clock, marking 6,220 days of Guantánamo's existence today, Jan. 21, 2019.

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By Andy Worthington, January 21, 2019

It’s ten days today since the 17th anniversary of Guantánamo; or, to put it another way, 6,220 days since the prison opened, as shown by the Gitmo Clock, an initiative we launched last year, which counts in real time how long the prison has been open, and permanently reminds Donald Trump that it must be closed.

On the day of the anniversary, I took dozens of photos of campaigners with posters, based on the Gitmo Clock, showing that it had been open for 6,210 days, and those photos can be found here.

It’s also three days since I returned to the U.K. after a ten-day trip to the U.S. to call for the prison’s closure. In contrast to the last few years, when the anniversary has been a somber affair, this year’s anniversary found campaigners invigorated and determined to show Donald Trump that we’re not going away. Last year, it’s fair to say, we felt rather crushed by Trump’s first year in office, and two years ago we were caught in the limbo between Barack Obama leaving office and Trump taking over.

For Close Guantánamo, two particular events mark the anniversary every year — a panel discussion at the New America think-tank, and a vigil with other rights groups outside the White House.

This year’s panel, at which I joined Close Guantánamo’s other co-founder, the attorney Tom Wilner, and Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch, was extremely well-attended, and, we’re pleased to note, was also broadcast live by C-SPAN, helping it to reach a wider audience. The video of it on YouTube is below, and we hope you have time to watch it.

The vigil was also well-attended, and a passionate affair with numerous speakers from the various organizations involved, including Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), CODEPINK, the Justice for Muslims Collective and Witness Against Torture — and myself representing Close Guantánamo. Also speaking were Jessica and Leila Murphy, who lost their father at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and who spoke out eloquently against the vengeance that consumed the U.S. in the wake of the attacks.

CCR made a video of the entire vigil available on Facebook, and, as with the New America video, we hope you have time to watch it.

I also took part in a number of radio interviews, and encourage you to listen to them if you have time — with Michael Slate in Los Angeles, Paul DeRienzo and Sunsara Taylor in New York, and Linda Olson-Osterlund in Portland.

Paul DeRienzo also did a half-hour interview with me for his open access TV show, 'Let Them Talk,' and that show is also available on YouTube here.

In the months to come we hope to follow up on aspects of the campaigning in Washington, D.C. that struck us as most useful — liaising with Democrats in the House of Representatives. In the run-up to the anniversary, some meetings with Democrats who are in the process of taking over various House committees were arranged by Richard Sroczynski, a social justice campaigner working with Witness Against Torture, and we’d very much like to be involved in further approaches.

We don’t automatically assume that the Democrats will do anything significant (because, of course, they had eight years under Barack Obama in which they failed to close the prison), but we are aware that this year’s renewed energy came about in part because the Democrats secured a majority in the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections, finally breaking through Republicans’ total control of Congress over the first two years of Trump’s presidency, and offering a slim hope that some lawmakers — although sadly, it seems, no Republicans whatsoever — can be reminded that, as we all know, every day that Guantánamo remains open is a source of shame for all decent Americans.

We also hope that Democrats can be made aware of the significance of Trump’s decision to close the Office of the Envoy for Guantánamo Closure, established under Barack Obama. The envoy not only liaised with other countries to secure the release of prisoners, but also monitored them afterwards, in ways that have recently been revealed to have been crucial to their well-being, and which also, of course, are helpful for the U.S. from a national security perspective.

To get involved, please contact us or write to your Senators and Representatives, whose contact details can be found here and here.