U.S. Christians March on Guantanamo
December 6, 2005
U.S. Christians March on Guantanamo to visit Prisoners on Hunger Strike
“Witness Against Torture” Implores U.S. Military to Allow Access So They Can Perform Work of Mercy: Bringing Comfort to Prisoners
Santiago, Cuba – Twenty-five Christians in the nonviolent tradition of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker arrived in Cuba last evening and plan to set out from Santiago today on a solemn fifty-mile march to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They seek to “defend human dignity” by visiting with the hundreds of detainees who have been held for more than three years under horrific conditions by the U.S. government.
“As a Christian, I feel compelled to reach out across national boundaries to perform one of the most basic acts of faith as described in the gospel of Matthew 25, I was in prison and you visited me,” explained Catholic Worker Matthew Daloisio. “We want our fellow Americans to see the shameful acts of torture and abuse taking place in this and other illegal prisons hidden across the globe. We pray that others will join us in urging our government to allow us to perform this act of Christian faith.”
Participants in the group include a Jesuit Priest, Steve Kelly, a Catholic Nun, Sr. Anne Montgomery, Frida Berrigan, daughter of the late antiwar activist Phil Berrigan, and representatives of a number of Catholic Worker Communities. The marchers plan to arrive outside the gates of the U.S. naval base and prison complex on Guantanamo Bay on December 10, International Human Rights Day.
They are requesting entry into the compound to visit and interview the detainees as a “work of mercy” in keeping with their faith. If refused, as United Nations inspectors were just two weeks ago, they will hold a fast in solidarity and a vigil to pray for the immediate abolition of torture by all nations.
A press conference at the St. Marks Church-on-the-Bowery will be held on December 7 to call on the U.S. Government to allow Witness Against Torture to visit the Guantanamo prisoners. Speakers will include Michael Ratner, head of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and CCR’s Gitanjali Gutierrez, the lead attorney for Guantanamo Bay detainees. CCR brought the landmark detainee right-to-trial case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Government had to allow federal hearings to determine the legal status of detainees. Ratner will explain how the Bush Administration has refused to comply with this ruling. Speakers will also include relatives of a Guantanamo Bay detainee now on hunger strike. Sister Diana Ortiz, a U.S. nun who was a victim of rape and torture in Guatemala, will be joined by anti-torture activist Jennifer Harberry, to speak of what it feels like to be a victim of torture.
A sign-on letter at http://www.witnesstorture.org will allow Americans to join their call.