We don't need an excuse to shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

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But we do find ourselves hard-pressed to explain why it is still open.

Reflections on the Bay Area leg of the 2014 Close Guantanamo NOW! tour

Andy Worthington flew out of San Francisco International Airport early Wednesday morning for Los Angeles appearances with journalist Jason Leopold and professor Dennis Loo, sponsored by Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP), IUCC Advocates for Peace and Justice, Orange County Peace Coaltion, Pax Christi Orange County, and Revolution Books; more on those engagements here.

While we always enjoy visiting with our chief chronicler (Andy) of the lawless experiment that 774 men and boys have endured at America's off-shore torture camp, and applaud the relentless efforts of human rights advocates like him to release innocent victims of indefinite detention, it was with a heavy heart that we marked the 12th anniversary (January 11) of the prison's opening. Thanks to tour participants Jeffrey Kaye, retired Air Force Captain Michael Kearns, and Adam Hudson, we had a good basis to discuss possibilities to not only close Guantanamo, and its outpost at Bagram, but to dismantle the intellectual framework for the U.S. torture program that threatens people across the globe. 

This year Bay Area organizers concentrated on bringing this particular story of U.S. cruelty and injustice to two local university campuses, with confidence that receptive students can inspire others to repudiate the dark history of Guantanamo and chart a different course, in the interests of humanity. 

I struggle to understand the apparent apathy of people living in the United States to actions by their government which contradict not only personal moral codes but the long-held cultural values that define a society. The fact that this country's workforce is kept too busy making ends meet to allow time for public debate and response only partially explains political paralysis in the face of deteriorating prospects of equitable and sustainable livelihood for us all.

Fear of stepping out of line, of breaking through comfortable confines of "acceptable" behavior also plays a part in constraining mobilization for action, but the freedom one feels in the aftermath of doing just that undermines the power attributed to respectable behavior. I'm just beginning to grasp the magnitude of institutional suppression of righteous resistance to injustice. It takes a lot of work by the state, over time, to corrode perceptions of "right" and "wrong." We look to our youth to take courage in a belief that a better world is possible.

Torture is Not "Normal"

The government's so-called War on Terror could be more aptly named a war OF terror. Despite the background of unending war and domestic police brutality that colored the childhood of today's students, we find resistance to more of the same. Examples abound; members of the UC Berkeley Muslim Student Association act out hypothetical drone strikes, Ball State University students protest Guantanamo, youth block traffic to raise awareness of hunger strikers, and Brown University students shout NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly off stage.

How will WE be judged?

Our government has done its best to hide the torture practiced at Guantanamo. But thanks to the courageous hunger strike of over 100 prisoners in 2013, which continues today despite U.S. military efforts to withhold the current tally of participants, we now know more details of continuing brutality. Excuses of ignorance about what is transpiring, short of deliberate head-turning, are no longer plausible.

The hunger strike by the Guantanamo prisoners is their cry to the world, which we must hear and support. Right now, today -- our voices and our actions can make a difference.

It is up to the people to stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so. The fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government's policies are inextricably intertwined with our own.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on January 16, 2014 7:18 PM.

The Company Store: Servicing the Torture State was the previous entry in this blog.

Why Guantánamo? Why me? is the next entry in this blog.

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