25 U.S. Christians Reach Base at Guantánamo
25 U.S. Christians Reach U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo, Hold Anti-Torture Vigil Outside Gates
While Four Other Christian Peacemakers Face Threat of Execution in Iraq, Group Asks President Bush to Allow Gospel Mandate to Visit Prisoners
PRESS CONFERENCE AT GUANTÁNAMO
3PM (2PM EST)
At La Glorieta, the first Cuban Military Checkpoint en route to base
Guantánamo, Cuba – A group of 25 U.S. Christians today ended their 50-mile march from Santiago, Cuba to the gates of the controversial American detention center at Guantánamo Bay. The Witness Against Torture marchers are the first American Christians ever to approach the notorious prison, where hundreds of inmates have been subjected to torture and humiliation, while being held outside of international law.
In June of this year, President Bush said to those concerned with the conditions in Guantánamo, “You're welcome to go down yourself... and take a look at the conditions.” Now these US Christians are calling his bluff. They are asking people to call on President Bush to grant permission for them to visit the prisoners.
In the tradition of the Catholic Worker movement and its founder Dorothy Day, the marchers are camping outside the Guantánamo Bay gates and calling on the U.S. Government to allow them access to the prison so that they may perform the Christian work of mercy of visiting the incarcerated, as called for in the Gospel of Matthew 25:36. Members of the group have set up tents outside the Cuban side of the gates, where they will fast and hold prayer vigils while waiting for U.S. permission to visit the prison.
Members of the group will also pray for the release of four Christian Peacemakers who are currently being held hostage in Iraq, where they face the threat of execution. Sister Anne Montgomery, a 79-year old full time member of the Christian Peacemaker Team who has been to Iraq, just completed the 50-mile trek to Guantánamo, “Tom Fox's last communication before he was kidnapped said that love is the only thing that can overcome dehumanization,” Sister Montgomery observed. “We feel that what is happening in Guantánamo represents the dehumanization of the prisoners, the guards and those that make war. We pray at the gates of Guantánamo that love will overcome this dehumanization.” Another CPT member, Danny Burns of Ithaca, NY, is also in at Guantánamo with the Witness Against Torture.
Witness Against Torture will hold a press conference Tuesday, December 13 at 3PM. They will speak about torture, the status of the detainees, and the Christian Peacekeepers being held hostage in Iraq.