Guantánamo 12th anniversary protests this weekend brought human rights defenders, including veterans, out in droves around the country. One of the most dramatic anti-torture demonstrations was staged at the National Museum of American History on the National Mall.
Six years after President Obama vowed to close Guantanamo prison, protesters rallied outside the White House Saturday, demanding he keep his promise in the name of human rights.
"What's going on there has been hidden from the American people by enlarge," said one protester in Medford, Oregon at Vogel Plaza. "There's little squibs of information that come out from time to time, but mostly people don't have any real knowledge about Guantanamo."
Veteran for Peace said that Saturday marked the 12th anniversary that people have been held captive at Guantanamo Bay and that it's a day to try and educate others about conditions and abusive treatment towards of those prisoners.
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The veterans acted as prisoners and guards at the Plaza, in memory of eight prisoners who died there since 2006.
"I thought it was basic knowledge that torture is not acceptable but apparently not. So here I am," said Bernadette Baker, from Brooklyn, NY., in an orange jump suit with the name of a Yemeni prisoner around her neck.
Human Rights Defenders Occupied National Museum
“Make Guantanamo History” was the call of 150 human rights defenders from around the country who gathered at the National Museum of American History, a natural history museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Marking the beginning of the thirteenth year of torture and indefinite detention at the prison camp in Cuba, 150 activists occupied the atrium of the crowded museum for over two hours, speaking against torture and calling for Guantanamo to close.
The rights advocates hung banners, stood in stress positions in hoods and jumpsuits, spoke to tourists, and, with their bodies and voices revised the museum’s “Price of Freedom” exhibit.
At that exhibit, they added twelve years of torture and indefinite detention as the bitter cost of the United States’ misguided pursuit of “national security.”
In a loud chorus, Witness Against Torture members and group members read from a statement that closed with the lines:
to honor freedom and justice and the struggles of Americans for these things, we must end torture, close the prison and make Guantanamo history.
Chantal deAlcuaz, a Witness Against Torture defender from Anchorage, Alaska spent the two hours in an orange jumpsuit and black hood.
“We came here today because we want to see Guantanamo relegated to a museum — to be shuttered and condemned," she said, adding, "but also understood as an example of where fear, hatred and violence can take us.”
Rights workers held protests in numerous other cities across the country, all with the same united call to close the torture and detention center.
In orange jumpsuits, Miami demonstrators protested outside the U.S. Southern Command on NW 33rd St on Saturday with signs, one accusing the U.S. of war crimes.
Sources: KOBI 5 News, Miami Herald, Witness Against Torture, WTOP News