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25 Witness Against Torture, CODEPINK Activists Arrested in Anti-Torture, Anti-Racism Protests

In three days, 25 activists from the human rights organizations Witness Against Torture and CODEPINK: Women for Peace were arrested in a series of actions condemning the US government’s use of torture and structural racism in the US justice system.

23 activists
from Witness Against Torture were arrested for protesting in the US Capitol on the afternoon of 12 January 2015.

Some held a sign reading “Ferguson 2 Guantánamo, White Silence = State Violence,” drawing connections between the US government’s use of torture and detention of individuals in the Guantánamo Bay prison without due process and the civil rights uprisings against police brutality and systemic racism that began in Ferguson, Missouri, in response to the killing of unarmed black teen Mike Brown.

They read an official statement in a “mic check,” in which protesters collectively recite lines from an orator. They addressed the racism in the US prison system, seeing it as a common link between Guantánamo and mass incarceration of black Americans.

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25 Witness Against Torture, CODEPINK Activists Arrested in Anti-Torture, Anti-Racism Protests

In three days, 25 activists from the human rights organizations Witness Against Torture and CODEPINK: Women for Peace were arrested in a series of actions condemning the US government’s use of torture and structural racism in the US justice system.

23 activists
from Witness Against Torture were arrested for protesting in the US Capitol on the afternoon of 12 January 2015.

Some held a sign reading “Ferguson 2 Guantánamo, White Silence = State Violence,” drawing connections between the US government’s use of torture and detention of individuals in the Guantánamo Bay prison without due process and the civil rights uprisings against police brutality and systemic racism that began in Ferguson, Missouri, in response to the killing of unarmed black teen Mike Brown.

They read an official statement in a “mic check,” in which protesters collectively recite lines from an orator. They addressed the racism in the US prison system, seeing it as a common link between Guantánamo and mass incarceration of black Americans.

We’ve come today to call or an end to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of any person by any agent of the US government—which is to say, we call for these constitutional obligations to be implemented. We call for the release of the full torture report of the US Senate so that the American people can begin to have some say of what is being done in our name, so the perpetrators might be prosecuted.

Similarly, we call for an immediate end to the use of long-term solitary confinement in our domestic prison system. This very day, 80,000 US prisoners are subject to long-term solitary confinement. Long-term solitary confinement is torture.

The vast majority of those subjects in solitary confinement are people of color. The large majority of our prisoners are people of color. This is racism. This is the New Jim Crow, subtle and cunning at once: “Three strikes and you’re out,” “Stop and Frisk.”

Guantánamo is also based on the fear induced by racism. Of the 780 men who passed through Guantánamo, 100% have been Muslim men. The vast of majority were guilty of nothing, but being Muslim.

Earlier, they had interrupted Senate proceedings.

Just hours later on the same day, CODEPINK and more Witness Against Torture activists held a protest at the Department of Justice.

The activists, also dressed in the orange jumpsuits that have come to embody Guantánamo Bay, held a similar sign, as well as signs calling for accountability for torture and police killings.

The entered and protested inside a DC cell block, calling “for an end to racism from Ferguson to Gitmo.”

On the previous day, activists gathered outside for another demonstration. Over 30 people were dressed in orange jumpsuits, the same clothes many Guantánamo detainees are forced to wear.

A few days before, on 9 January, the activists stood outside of the White House, again in orange jumpsuits, with a large banner reading “Close Guantanamo.”

These arrests follow a 10 January action in which CODEPINK and Witness Against Torture members gathered on the back porch of former Vice President Dick Cheney, calling for the official’s arrest for his overseeing of torture and war crimes.

Two were arrested at this demonstration, including longtime CODEPINK member Tighe Barry and 83-year-old retired D.C. public-school teacher and peace activist Eve Tetaz.

Witness Against Torture, CODEPINK, and more are leading mounting pressure by human rights organizations to close the Guantánamo Bay prison.

This series of actions coincides with the 13th anniversary of the re-opening of Guantánamo by the Bush administration. For over a decade, the Red Cross and numerous human rights organizations have said that the torture of detainees without trial at Guantánamo constitutes a war crime. The activists say they condemn the continued operation of the prison and hope to see it closed.

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