NI Stands In Solidarity With Victims of Torture

IMG540On June 26th, NI director Michael Beer and colleagues joined over 100 nonviolent activists outside the White House in solidarity with victims of torture around the world. International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which condemns the use of torture in all contexts, has become increasingly centered around the use of torture on American soil - specifically, in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. To commemorate the 86 detainees deemed fit for release by the Obama administration in January 2009, as well as those captives who have died awaiting release, protesters wore orange jump suits and hung signs around their necks with the names of GITMO detainees and their IDs.
The demonstration, which began with a peace vigil, quickly developed into a full-on nonviolent protest - activists turned to face the White House, demanding that Obama "close GITMO, NOW!" As activists approached the White House fence, an elaborate drama unfolded, depicting the inhumane and torturous practice of force feeding hunger strikers. The spectacle, which drew almost the entire protesting body, distracted from the exceedingly brave act of hunger striker, Diane Wilson, who jumped the White House fence.  Diane Wilson, on her 57th day of a water-only hunger strike, was pushed on a wheelchair to the fence by NI's Latin America director, Andres Conteris. Once over the fence, Wilson remained on the ground unharmed, as secret service police approached to arrest and detain her.
IMG530 Diane WilsonWilson's courageous act, in addition to the 19, willing arrests that followed, sent a clear message of unwavering solidarity with GITMO detainees. The second message, a call of anger and frustration with the Obama administration's failure to  act on its promise, was also heard loud and clear, as protesters received word that Obama would meet with five representatives of the Guantanamo Grassroots Coalition.  The day's events, free of violence and aggression, unfolded in a victory for nonviolent protesters everywhere.  May their efforts continue so that Guantanamo detainees and all victims of torture may have their victory, their justice.
To track the progress of the Guantanamo Grassroots Coalition, visit their website at www.closegitmo.net

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