Sunday, January 13, 2008

Open for 6 years: Guantanamo concentration camp

Big thanks to Michelle for writing the following article. The action, organized by Witness Against Torture, was a powerful one. The Supreme Court Police were extremely rough with the protesters arrested on the inside. This might have been the first time such a sizable protest was conducted inside, about 15 yards from the court's main chamber. One activist in her 70s was injured when police threw her to the marble floor twice...

Activists Pose as Guantanamo Prisoners

By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, January 13, 2008; C03

As the protesters were led, one after the other, before Judge Robert I. Richter to be charged, all stated their real names and added, "I am here on behalf of . . ." -- then named one of the 275 suspected terrorists held at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Mixed among more routine cases such as simple assault and prostitution, the detainees' names were on the arraignment schedule tacked up in the court basement near the cafeteria, all charged with "displaying banner on the Supreme Court" and "speech at the Supreme Court" -- essentially illegally protesting on court grounds.

"Even if it's symbolic, it's incredibly important, because these names are finally being heard in a courtroom," said Mark Goldstone, an attorney for Witness Against Torture, the group that organized the protest.

Although most of them only stated the name of a particular detainee, one made a statement, saying the protest was done to make the U.S. court system pay attention, because courts have the ability to make changes in society, said Jack Baringer, another attorney with the group.

"It was very powerful," Baringer said.

About a third of the protesters were from the Washington area; others came from as far as New England, New York and Iowa. Some agreed not to get arrested in the next six months and will have their records wiped clean; others, more regular activists, wouldn't commit to that, and Richter set a trial date for them.

Those arrested outside the Supreme Court face a maximum of 60 days in jail; those arrested inside, where they attempted to unfurl a 4-foot-by-30-foot banner reading "Close Guantanamo," face a second 60 days for disturbing the court.

"Guantanamo is so striking in its immorality and lack of justice," said Nolan, who participated in a similar protest for last year's rally -- representing the same man, 26-year-old Fazaldad, whose first name is listed as "unknown" on Defense Department lists. "If humans were created in God's image, torture is clearly a defilement of that."

The Supreme Court protest was among dozens held around the world Friday.

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