After 100 days, the 100 Days Campaign to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ends April 30.
Dozens of people seeking the guarantee of humans rights for the 239 detainees being held without charges at Guantanamo will wrap up 100 days of vigils and educational programs with a 10 a.m. rally near Capitol Hill followed by a procession to the White House.
While organizers are not saying exactly what will happen, some of the marchers are planning an “act of resistance” during the noon hour.
Campaign organizer Matthew Daloisio of Witness Against Torture told CNS he and others won’t give up their quest until the men being held there are released or have their day in court. The group started their public witness on the day of President Barack Obama’s inauguration and gathered for two hours each weekday outside the White House. Numerous speaking events and other programs also were held across the nation’s capital.
“At the end of 100 days we had very much hoped we would be much further along, that life for the people in Guantanamo would have been materially changed,” Daloisio said.
Daloisio is not calling the campaign a failure. He said the group’s steadfastness for more than three months has been a worthwhile accomplishment.
Participants were pleased that an executive order banning torture as a part of U.S. foreign policy was signed Jan. 22 by the president as promised during his election campaign. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has long supported an end to the use of torture, and even developed a study guide on the issue. Obama also has called for closing the prison within a year.
A former resident at the New York Catholic Worker house, Daloisio points to another success, one that won’t necessarily make headlines: the positive relationships the vigilers developed with the Secret Service agents who kept an eye on their actions day in and day out.
One day late in the campaign, Daloisio recalled, a tourist approached the White House vigilers questioning why they were still pressing their point. After all, the tourist said, Obama already had closed the prison. That’s when a Secret Service agent stepped in and calmly explained that the Guantanamo Bay prison remained open and would be for up to a year. The vigilers, he explained, were expressing their concern for the detainees.