On Wednesday, July 24 at 2pm, Sen. Richard Durbin, chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights of the Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing about the possibility of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The hearing will examine the national security, fiscal and human rights implications of continuing to detain prisoners at Guantanamo indefinitely, and will explore how Guantanamo undermines U.S. moral authority.
The situation at Guantanamo is dire. Since February, detainees at Guantanamo Bay have been on hunger strike to protest their seemingly permanent indefinite detention without trial. Though we will never know what it is like to risk hunger strike under conditions faced by the men at Guantanamo, we have an important role to play as people of faith who support their call for an end to indefinite detention and closure of Guantanamo. To express the religious community’s serious concerns about the situation, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture has invited people of faith to join in a Fast to Close Guantanamo by fasting from noon Eastern time (9am Pacific) on July 23 to noon Eastern time (9am Pacific) on July 24, or within some other timeframe that aligns with your religious observances and traditions.
The Director of the UCC Washington Office, Sandy Sorensen, and Rev. Michael Neuroth, UCC Policy Advocate for International Issues will be joining by fasting, and we invite you to pray and fast with them where ever you are.
There are many ways you can engage in the Fast to Close Guantanamo.
Fast - Join the Fast to Close Guantanamo by fasting from noon Eastern time (9am Pacific) on July 23 to noon Eastern time (9am Pacific) on July 24, or within some other timeframe that aligns with your religious observances and traditions. Let NRCAT know you will join the Fast.
Spread the Word - Take a photo of yourself holding a sign declaring why you support the Fast to Close Guantanamo or a statistic/fact about torture. After you take a picture, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or NRCAT by email. You can use the hashtag #Fast2CloseGitmo.
Tweet - To ensure that President Obama hears your support for a closure of Guantanamo, be sure to tweet your photo to @Whitehouse. You can use the hashtag #Fast2CloseGitmo. Sample tweets:
- @WhiteHouse I am joining the #Fast2CloseGitmo. #CloseGitmo @NRCATtweets
- @Whitehouse 166 Gitmo Detainees….86 cleared for transfer or release #Fast2CloseGitmo @NRCATtweets
When he first took office, President Obama promised to close the prison at Guantanamo within a year. More than four years later, 166 detainees remain at Guantanamo - 86 of whom have been cleared for transfer or release. President Obama has signed and Congress has passed legislation making it difficult to close Guantanamo. Recently, the Department of State shuttered the office responsible for closing Guantanamo.
While legislation has made it more difficult for the President to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo – it is still possible. Guantanamo is a place where prisoners were tortured and where most continue to be held indefinitely without trial. Its continued existence is a moral travesty. On July 12, 2013, UCC General Minister and President Geoffrey Black, joined over 40 religious leaders sent a letter to President Obama.
On May 10, 2013, our partners at NRCAT cosponsored a Congressional briefing on why it is imperative that we close Guantanamo. NRCAT founder, Dr. George Hunsinger, eloquently spoke about the unfolding human crisis at Guantanamo. “The consequences of ignoring Guantanamo,” he said, “its abuses, and its hunger-striking detainees are enormous --not only for America, but for the prisoners themselves, many of whom have reached the point that they would prefer to die rather than persist in more years of indefinite detention, which is itself tantamount to torture.” You can watch the video of the briefing here, with Dr. Hunsinger’s presentation starting at 36:10.