Witness Against Torture marchers reach Guantánamo Bay base

Members of the New York City Catholic Worker pray at the military zone boundary near the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Scott LangleyOn Tuesday,  December 13, twenty-five U.S. Christians ended their fifty-mile march from Santiago, Cuba to the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay. The Witness Against Torture marchers are the first American Christians ever to approach the prison, where hundreds of inmates have been tortured, humiliated and held in violation of international law. During their march, the participants prayed for the Guantánamo detainees and for the four Christian Peacemakers threatened with execution in Iraq.
 
The group includes Sr. Anne Montgomery, who has served with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq and Hebron, and Danny Burns, who was part of a CPT delegation to Iraq.
 
Participants in the Guantanamo witness plan to try to visit the incarcerated, as called for in Matthew 25:36.  Members of the group have set up tents on the Cuban side of the gates, where they will fast and pray while waiting for U.S. permission to visit the prison.
 
In June, President Bush said to those concerned with the conditions in Guantánamo, "You’re welcome to go down yourself...and take a look at the conditions." The group is asking people to call on President Bush to grant permission for them to visit the prisoners.
 
Anne Montgomery read from a prepared statement, "In 2003, three Christian Peacemaker Teams members were refused entrance to Airport Detention Center near Baghdad, Iraq. As we stood there, two taxis arrived filled with families desperate to get information about fathers, brothers, and sons seized in raids of homes and on the street. After that we found many other families in the same situation. We began a campaign, not claiming innocence or guilt of the prisoners, but calling for their basic human rights to be respected. Now (we) are marching toward Guantanamo where Iraqis and others are being held. Tom Fox, a CPT member who is being held hostage in Iraq, said just before his capture, ‘War and oppression make people less human than they should be.’"
 
"I’ve been in prison when people outside were holding a vigil," said Susan Crane of the Catholic Worker Movement.  "I could feel the encouragement--not just me, but the other women, that people were praying for me. It brings hope." Crane said the U.S. war on terror would not bring security. She said the only way the country can protect itself is by changing its attitudes and actions toward the rest of the world. "Jesus brought a new commandment: to love one another," she said. "To me, nonviolence is the only thing that’s going to work."
 
Added Anne Montgomery, "We feel that what is happening in Guantánamo represents the dehumanization of the prisoners, the guards and those that make war. We pray at the gates of Guantánamo that love will overcome this dehumanization."
 
This story was supplied by CPTnet.