On the global day of action, tell President Obama to free all the cleared prisoners in Guantánamo
Dear friends and supporters,
Albany, Amherst, Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Honolulu, Memphis, Minneapolis, Montclair, New Haven, New York, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Orange County, Pittsburgh, Pioneer Valley, Portland, Raleigh, Sacramento, San Francisco, Springfield, Sunnyvale, Tiffin, Toledo, Tucson, Washington D.C. and Worcester.
These are all places where, on Friday May 23, protests against the continued existence of Guantánamo will be taking place
-- plus international events in London (where "Close Guantánamo" co-founder Andy Worthington will be speaking), Mexico City, Munich, Sydney and Toronto.
A year ago, President Obama, stung by criticism as a prison-wide hunger strike engulfed Guantánamo, promised to resume releasing prisoners
, after nearly three years in which the release of prisoners had almost ground to a halt, because of Congressional obstacles and the inertia of the administration. Since then, 12 men have been released, but 75 others -- out of the 154 men still held -- were cleared for release
in January 2010 by a high-level inter-agency task force appointed by President Obama, and two others were approved for release
in recent months by Periodic Review Boards.
The message to President Obama on the day of action must be that all these men need to be freed as soon as possible. 57 of the 77 men are Yemenis, who the authorities fear returning because of instability in Yemen, but that is an unacceptable reason for endlessly detaining people a high-level task force said should not be held indefinitely or put on trial.
The 20 others are from a variety of countries. Some cannot be safely repatriated, and need other countries to offer them new homes. One of these men is Abu Wa'el Dhiab, a Syrian, who, like other prisoners cleared for release but still held, embarked on a hunger strike in despair at his predicament, and has ended up being force-fed.
Last Friday, Mr. Dhiab won an astounding victory in the District Court in Washington D.C., when Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the government to stop force-feeding him, and to preserve videotapes showing his force-feeding and showing his violent removal from his cell to be force-fed, whose existence had only recently become known to his lawyers.
Ironically, Mr. Dhiab could be freed tomorrow, as he is one of six prisoners who cannot be safely repatriated, but who have been offered new homes by President Mujica of Uruguay
. Please read about Mr. Dhiab's court victory here
, in articles by Andy Worthington, and read Andy's article here on "Close Guantánamo"
about how two other prisoners have been inspired to submit their own legal challenges this week.
Tomorrow, however, please phone the White House (on 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414) and tell President Obama to release Abu Wa'el Dhiab and the 76 other men cleared for release.
You can also, if you prefer, leave a comment online
on the White House's website.
You can tell the president to release Mr. Dhiab and the five other men requested by President Mujica, you can tell him that he needs to resume releasing Yemenis after nearly four years in which not a single Yemeni prisoner has been released, you can tell him to release Shaker Aamer
, the last British resident in the prison, whose family waits for him in London -- we don't care how you phrase your request, or your demand, but all we ask is that you make your voice heard, and ask others to do so.
Please also feel free to visit, like share and tweet the Gitmo Clock
,which we launched last summer to mark how many days it is since President Obama's promise last May, and how many men have been freed.
With thanks, as ever, for your support,
The "Close Guantánamo" team