May 17 Action in Chicago – Global Days of Action for Guantanamo Hunger Strikers
On Friday, May 17, 2013, more than 50 people gathered at Federal Plaza to mark the 100th day of the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay Prison with a rally and procession. We were inspired by the courageous hunger strike of the prisoners, which has broken through years of silence on this injustice, and we rallied to support their demand for release and justice. Eight people dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, representing the men detained and cleared for release. We spread out photos of the 86 menwho have been cleared for release years ago, with their names, country of origin and length of stay at the prison, to put names and faces on the numbers.
Len Goodman, a Guantanamo defense lawyer, shared his client’s story. He represents Shawali Khan, a poor shopkeeper from Kandahar turned in for a bounty who has now been in Guantanamo for 10 years and is on hunger strike. Mario Venegas of the Illinois Coalition Against Torture described how he experienced similar torture and went on hunger strike himself against the military rule of Augusto Pinochet, a dictator put in power by the US. Other speakers at the rally included Jill McLaughlin (World Can’t Wait Chicago), Carmen Hidalgo Staub* (Amnesty International), Jerica Arents and Chris Knestrick (Witness Against Torture Chicago), Andy Thayer (Gay Liberation Network) and a member of the NATO5 Defense Committee.
From Federal Plaza, we formed a procession of orange jumpsuits, followed by a banner that said “We Support the Guantanamo Hunger Strikers, Close Guantanamo Now!” We encouraged the crowd to carry the men’s photos down State Street, as the sidewalks filled with people going home from work. We distributed hundreds of flyers and a few people joined in our action.
We ended our march at Daley Plaza with a stunning visual of the orange jumpsuits and black hoods lined up in front of the Picasso sculpture, and the photos of the men propped against the step in front of them. We read two poems from Guantanamo prisoners. One was “Hunger Strike Poem” by Adnan Latif, who was cleared for release but died in September 2012, waiting for justice. We closed the event with the chorus “Courage Muslim brothers, you do not walk alone, we will walk with you and sing your spirit home” and pledged to come back next Friday for the weekly vigil at State and Jackson at 4:30 pm.
Photos Credited to FJJ
World Can’t Wait Publishes an Ad in the New York Times
On Thursday May 23, millions of readers opened their New York Times to find this powerful and righteous message signed by Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, John Cusack, Guantanamo lawyers and many others. All this on the same day Obama gave his speech justifying the drone program and indefinite detention. Please put your name to this statement here