Guantanamo continues to stand as an example of how the United States has forfeited the most basic human rights. We now stand as a country that tortures and detains prisoners indefinitely. For the 154 men who remain in Guantanamo this abuse and torture has lasted twelve years. 76 of the men, who are not guilty of a crime, have been cleared for release by the US government. They can and should go home today. There are 71 others who our government cannot charged with a crime but will not release. As of right now, they are “forever detainees in a forever war.”
One year ago, on May 23rd, President Obama yet again promised the country that Guantanamo would end and the prisoners would be released. His pledge came in response to the mass hunger strike by men protesting their indefinite detention and to the renewed, global condemnation of the prison. One year later, far too little has changed: few detained men have left the prison and hunger strikes and force feeding continue.
Witness Against Torture along with other grassroots activists, human rights organizations, and advocates for the detained men have called on people throughout the United States and the world to hold President Obama to his promise by taking action on May 23rd, 2014. (See call to action by clicking here.)
We know that many of you are busy preparing the details of the action. Right now, we have actions planned in Washington DC, New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Hawaii, Germany, London, Sydney and in many more communities around the world. Here is a virtual tool kit which seeks to provide your community with action ideas, resources, and a media guide. This toolkit will support you in building creative actions, staying unified in our collective voice, and provide resources for you to have a successful action on May 23rd.
—-Tool-Kit Table of Contents —-
1. Organize your actions
- How to create a small action
- Preparing for a larger demonstration
- Other actions: fasting and phone calls
2. Resources for your action
- Email invite template
- Letters from Guantanamo
- President Obama’s May 23rd, 2013 speech
- Songs for your action
- Sample flyer
3. Collective media strategy
- Photo campaign
- Sample press release
4. Support from Witness Against Torture
- Contact us if you need anything
- We can provide banners
1: Actions Big and Small
Your action can be as small or as big as you want depending on your time and ability. We want action that have three people and demonstrations with 100s of people. The most important thing is that we are making our collective voice heard all over the world about closing Guantanamo. Our slogan for the day is “Not Another Broken Promise! Not Another Day in Guantanamo!” Feel free to use this or think of another slogan for your action. We are hoping that people will play on President Obama’s speech (See Resources) in creative and unique ways.
Steps to create a demonstration with 3 to 10 people
1: Pick a Location. The location should have heavy foot and car traffic so as many people as possible can see your action. It is also preferable if the location has a political connection, such as federal buildings or court houses. You can also pick cultural spaces and events such as parades, history museums, etc.
2: Time. Most communities are rallying at noon to catch the lunch hour rush. This is also a good time for media coverage. Many folks will be leaving work early to start their Memorial Day weekend. Plan for the time that would work best for your location.
3: Roles for people. You should consider the roles that will be needed for your actions.
– Who will be holding the signs?
Person(s) holding a clear sign which is large enough to be seen by folks who
are either driving or walking by quickly. At least one of your signs should
include the word “Guantanamo” so your audience knows what your reason for
– Who will be wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods?
The image of people in orange jumpsuits and black hoods has become an
important part of symbolizing the crime of Guantanamo. They almost always
get attention and people passing by will want to take pictures. If people do not
want to wear jumpsuits consider a Shut Down Guantanamo t-shirt.
– Who will be handing out flyers?
You will want to have people handing out flyers about Guantanamo who are
also willing to engage people passing by in conversation. See sample flyer in
-Who is in charge of taking photos and videos?
This is really important. Witness Against Torture will be posting photos and videos of your action on our website and tumblr account. This is also a way to allow your small action to be seen by a larger number of people. Your camera/media person should be familiar with our Media Strategy.
2. Preparing a Larger Demonstration
More populated cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York City, Washington DC, London and Munich are planning larger demos. Here are some ideas of what they are doing.
Boston – Afternoon brunch and a procession from a mosque to the Boston Commons. Ending with speakers representing Center for Constitutional Rights, Amnesty International and Witness Against Torture.
Chicago – (Chris or Marie, can you add what you’re doing here?)
New York City – The police have been notified where they will block off a section in front of the military recruitment center in Times Square. Quotes from President Obama’s May 23 speech will be read such as “Is that who we are?” Stadium size posters with images of Guantanamo will then be raised.
Excerpts from Obama’s May 23 speech:
Today, I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from Gitmo.
But once we commit to a process of closing Gitmo, I am confident that this legacy problem can be resolved, consistent with our commitment to the rule of law.
Is that who we are? Is that something our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave our children? Our sense of justice is stronger than that.
The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to.
Songs from the Peace Poets
Lyrics We who believe in Freedom can not rest,
We who believe in Freedom can not rest until it comes!
We gotta’ close Guantanamo today,
We gotta’ close Guantanamo today, stop torture now!
4. Media Stategy: We are hoping that we use social media to make our voice heard. There are couple ways that you can do this to support the May 23rd action.
Create a facebook event page for your action
Post the event on our WAT page
Change your facebook profile to this image:
Cover photo image:
Photo campaign. Take a photo of yourself and finish this sentence,”In 12 years I have…”
(insert sample image)
For May 23 when posting to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WordPress, and Tumblr please use #GitmoProblems. This is an easy way for people to search for images from the day and reshare them. Other popular hashtags are “#Guantanamo” “CloseGitmo” “OPGTMO” “#standfast” and “Fast4Justice”
Sample press release: (jeremy is writing this)