May 17, 2013

370,000 Sign Petition to President Obama: Close Guantanamo

Today, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture joined a coalition of human rights, public policy and faith-based groups in a rally in front of the White House, calling on President Obama to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Today marks the 100th day that detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay have been on hunger strike. 

During the rally, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture’s executive director, The Rev. Richard Killmer, lifted up the concern for the lives of the hunger strikers, and described the organization’s longstanding concern for the moral wound that Guantanamo has created.

“Years of detention without charge or trial have created a sense of desperation and hopelessness among the men at Guantanamo, which has led over 100 of them to join a hunger strike,” Killmer said during his remarks at the rally. “The human crisis in Guantanamo is a moral one that needs to end immediately. The faith community calls on the President to close Guantanamo. It is the right thing to do.”

NRCAT joined with Col. Morris Davis, Retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, and representatives from Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition, and World Can’t Wait, to deliver more than 370,000 petition signatures to the White House calling for the detention facility to be closed.

NRCAT calls on President Obama to immediately:
  1. Direct Secretary of Defense Hagel to use existing certification procedures to repatriate and resettle abroad all prisoners who have been cleared for transfer.
  2. Lift the self-imposed ban on transferring detainees back to Yemen. Of the 86 prisoners cleared for release from the prison, 56 are Yemenis. Obama imposed the ban after the “underwear bomber,” a Nigerian trained in Yemen, tried to detonate explosives on a plane headed for Detroit in 2009. The ban, at this point, does more harm than good.
  3. Work with the Yemeni government, a strong ally in the U.S. fight against al-Qaida affiliates, to provide assistance, security measures, and rehabilitation programs that would allow the United States to more safely transfer Yemeni prisoners back to their country.
  4. Appoint a senior White House official to be responsible for transferring all detainees back to their home countries or to a third country, and for closing the prison. In February, the administration closed the State Department office charged with closing the facility.
NRCAT has created resources for religious congregations of all faiths to join in the call for the closure of Guantanamo, available at

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) participates alongside our ecumenical and interfaith partners in NRCAT.

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