Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday 2015: How can we help to shine the light?

The Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo participated in the April 3, 2015, Good Friday Justice Walk sponsored every year by the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago:

Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo members
reading on Good Friday 2015. (Photo courtesy FJJ.)

Today we remember the prisoners at Guantanamo, most of them never charged with any crime. They have been stripped of their clothes, their ties to their families, their rights, and their identities. They have been humiliated and tortured.

With the courage of their hunger strikes, their legal battles, and their words they shine a light on Guantanamo, and they call on us to work for justice.

Today we share words from the Guantanamo Diary of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, stripped, tortured, and still imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2002, though never charged, and though a federal judge ordered his release in 2010.

Reader 1: “I was deprived of my comfort items, except for a thin iso-mat and a very thin, small, worn-out blanket. I was deprived of my books, which I owned, I was deprived of my Koran, I was deprived of my soap. I was deprived of my toothpaste and the roll of toilet paper I had. The cell – better, the box – was cooled down to the point where I was shaking most of the time. I was forbidden from seeing the light of the day…” (218)

Reader 2: [The interrogator tells him] “We’re gonna put you in a hole for the rest of your life. You’re already convicted. You will never see your family.” (238)

Guantánamo Diary
by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Reader 3: “…in the secret camps [section of GITMO] the war against the Islamic religion was more than obvious. Not only was there no sign to Mecca, but the ritual prayers were also forbidden. Reciting the Koran was forbidden. Possessing the Koran was forbidden. Fasting was forbidden. Practically any Islamic-related ritual was forbidden.” (265)

Reader 4: [The interrogator tells him] "In the eyes of the Americans, you're doomed. Just looking at you in an orange suit, chains, and being Muslim and Arabic is enough to convict you."(220)

Reader 5: “I have only written what I experienced, what I saw, and what I learned first-hand.” (all from 369-70)

All: Mohamedou Ould Slahi - Thank you for shining the light

Reader: “I have tried not to exaggerate nor to understate. I have tried to be as fair as possible, to the U.S. government, to my brothers, and to myself.”

All: Mohamedou Ould Slahi - How can we help to shine the light?

Reader: “I don’t expect people who don’t know me to believe me, but I expect them, at least, to give me the benefit of the doubt.”

All: Mohamedou Ould Slahi - How can we help to shine the light?

“…if Americans are willing to stand for what they believe in, I also expect public opinion to compel the U.S. government to open a torture and war crimes investigation. I am more than confident that I can prove every single thing I have written in this book if I am ever given the opportunity…”

All: Guantanamo prisoners and hunger strikers, we thank you for shining the light.

Reader: Just as the prisoners at Guantanamo shed light through their courage, we thank the families of people who are tortured in U.S. jails and prisons and even murdered by the police. These families have been stripped of their loved ones but refuse to accept this injustice. Their courage shines a light for all of us to stand for justice.

All: Guantanamo prisoners and families of those whose lives are stolen by police in the US, we thank you for shining the light.

Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo members participating
 in the Good Friday 2015 Justice Walk. (Photo courtesy FJJ.)