Notes on peace and justice

Members of Witness Against Torture protest outside of the White House in January 2013. (Courtesy of Witness Against Torture)

Members of Witness Against Torture, dressed as inmates of the U.S. Army prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, protest outside of the White House in January 2013. (Courtesy of Witness Against Torture)

Witness Against Torture returns to Washington

Members of Witness Against Torture will return to Washington Jan 6-13 for a weeklong liquids-only fast in their effort to push President Barack Obama to close the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where 160 men continue to be detained because authorities believe they have connections to terrorist organizations.

Matt Daloisio, a Catholic Worker in New York who has been a leader in the group, told Catholic News Service,  about 40 people will gather in the nation’s capital for the fast and daily events while another 100 will join them around the country.

“We’ll be focusing this year how Guantanamo has become a part of American culture and reckoning how Guantanamo has been a part of the past and is a part of our present and how not to make it part of our future,” he said.

Daloisio expressed hope that more releases are on the horizon.

“There have been six releases this year. There may be two more before the end of the year. While this is wholly inadequate, because more than 70 people remain cleared for release and should be released immediately, there are signs that Congress is loosening some of the restrictions and the administration is taking that as a sign to start to empty the prison and move past this chapter,” Daloisio said.

Witness Against Torture has called for the closure of Guantanamo since 2005, four years after the prison opened. Members say the indefinite detention of men without formal criminal charges is immoral and violates basic human rights. They also have raised concern about the treatment of detainees in the U.S. Army-run prison.

“The community that is going to gather for the fast is a community that includes many Catholic Workers and many people of faith who see Guantanamo as not just the political problem it is and the legal problem it is, but also a spiritual problem and have a different understanding of we are to treat one another no matter what we have done,” Daloisio explained.

“The men leaving Guantanamo are essentially refugees and it would do us well to think about how we, as American citizens, as people of faith, can incorporate the lessons of this season of Advent and the lessons of our faith to react to these men whom we have imprisoned for so long,” he added.

24 hours for world peace

Pax Christi International will participate in a World Day of Peace online vigil and is inviting people from around the world to join the effort on New Year’s Day.

People are being asked to visit the website 24 Hours for World Peace to offer their hopes and dreams for a world without violence. Participants can explain how they promote peace in their local communities, offer poetry or other works of art and send messages to others sharing the ideal of a peaceful world.

The effort also is meant to connect people from around the world, especially young people and students, who are working for peace.

Once registered, individuals will receive updates on the effort and continue to be connected into 2014.

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