Thursday, January 11, 2007

Vacation day in Guantánamo
...or, a cold day in hell

No, I didn't really take a trip to the Caribbean, but I did take half a vacation day to participate with about 50 other concerned, compassionate county residents in the International Day of Action to Shut Down Guantánamo. See:

Witness Against Torture

Besides, you would never mistake where I was for Guantánamo Bay Prison. It was too cold and windy to be confused with hell.

Somewhere in the U.S. some company is doing a booming business in fake orange detainee jumpsuits. People have been ordering thousands of them to wear during protests, like the one we staged in front of the county courthouse today. You'd recognize me anywhere, I know, but just in case ...I'm the one to the right of the kneeling protester, holding the sign.

Here's someone else holding my sign, an enlargement of the Witness Against
Torture flyer.

You know the facts by now, right?

You don't???? Well, come out of yourself a little and see what our government is doing in your name (if, gentle reader, you're an American citizen):

--500 people from 35 countries continue to be held without charge or trial as of January 2006, four years after the Bush administration began locking up detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

--Detainees remain in a legal black hole, many with no access to any court, legal counsel, or family visits.

--There’s mounting evidence that detainees have been subjected to torture and other forms of mistreatment. This evidence comes not only from the few detainees who have been allowed to meet with lawyersand the fewer who have been released, but also from FBI agents and former military personnel who were assigned to Guantánamo. (You can read the FBI reports for yourself.)

--Several detainees have attempted suicide. Three succeeded. In desperation,between 100 and 150 recently embarked on hunger strikes. They are being kept alive, sometimes against their will, through painful forced-feeding procedures.

--The U.N. Commission on Human Rights, in a report of Feb. 2006, stated that “the legal regime applied to these detainees seriously undermines the rule of law and a number of fundamental universally recognized human rights, which are the essence of democratic societies,” and concludes that “The United States Government should close the Guantánamo Bay detention facilities without further delay.”
(from Witness Against Torture)

And if you are also a Christian, gentle reader, I address this poem to you:

Song of the Tortured Jesus

in the days preceding Easter you retell aloud the story of how my friends deserted me, how not one lifted his voice to protest that I was innocent. You recall how I was scourged. You walk the Stations of the Cross with me. You are there when they lay me in the tomb.

Then on Easter you celebrate the return of the Light, my return to life.

But I am still in the dungeon, buried all alone for days and nights, tormented by hallucinations. My captors bludgeon my psyche, mangle my personhood.…Again and again I am laid broken and unconscious in the prison-tomb.

Still you do not lift up your voice to save me. Today as then, my ordeal is mandated by the authorities. Those in high places deny my presence and my torments, even as they invent new laws to keep me here.

Free me now. Make me rise triumphant from this grave.

I too want to sing alleluia.

...and be sure to visit No2Torture.

A version of this poem appeared in
Swans Commentary,
April 24, 2006

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