#opGTMO: Justice for Guantanamo and the President of the United States’ Speech

Rachael M. Rudolph

The following is an articulation of my understanding of the points made by the President of the United States regarding an issue near and dear to our hearts, which is Guantanamo Bay.  The individuals in Guantanamo Bay have been lingering for almost a decade.  Their attorneys and human rights activists have attempted to bring justice to them and called on state and non-state actors to bring an end to the injustice that the prison symbolizes.

 

For far too long many have sat idle permitting this injustice to continue.  Whether it was out of fear or believing that our actions make no difference, we are, in part, to blame.  We can fault the President of the United States, the US Congress, the US military, the policies of the US, other statesmen from various countries and political actors around the world, or even the mosaic of groups that countries lump into the Alqaeda network, but at the end of the day there is not one person who has not been complicit in some way in the past or even the present.  It is time for us all to stop playing the blame game and work toward a better tomorrow.

Together, hand-in-hand, we can make this a better place. We need no leader to tell us how to lead and to do what is right.  What is right and just resides within our heart.  We are a global community that has spent the last few years attempting to build bridges of understanding and to promote acceptance of our differences.

Most of us operate on the ground and engage in dialogue with actors across the spectrum.  We must continue to do so, but with more vigor than before.  The world in which we are living is at a crossroads.  Look around the places where each of us live, operate or engage.  Increasing amounts of violence plague our streets and the children of our future are marred with both physical and psychological wounds that will carry them into their future.  Their stories of suffering will be passed down to their children.  Is this the world we want to leave?  Is this to be our legacy?  It is not about a country or countries, but about us as a people, a global community, who seeks change and a better tomorrow.

Let us focus on the following points, which the President of the United States highlighted in some ways directly and others indirectly:

  • Lift restrictions on Yemeni transfers;
  • Create a site in the US for detainees’ cases to be heard in a US court of law;
  • Intent to transfer those cleared for release, but it requires the US Congress lifting restrictions;
  • US Congress has imposed restrictions and prevented transfer; it has limited action in the closure of #GITMO.
  • There has been no escape from a US maximum security prison in the past and US courts have tried individuals charged with terrorism.
  •  We need a comprehensive strategy that gets at the underlying grievances.  It must conform to values of freedom and justice.  They must be paramount.
  • Freedom is about listening to one another and having the right to present our point of view.
  • History will judge us by our actions.  Failure to act on #GITMO hinders our actions and stands contrary to the values of freedom and justice.

 

As a global activist community, there are several things from this that we should be able to commit to:

  •  Continue being the voices of the voiceless in #GITMO so they are not silenced.
  •  Not permit the issues of #GITMO to be swept under the rug.
  •  Work on a clear and long term oriented strategy to see the release & transfer of all cleared detainees.
  •  Work toward closing #GITMO.

If we do not provide a voice and articulate a comprehensive strategy, then those who have been in charge of the Guantanamo will continue to do so.  They will continue to listen to the interests whispering in their ears.  Those who have an interest in maintaining the facility and current policy will prevail.  Let us not fall prey to the blame game.  We need to maintain our unity and forge ahead.  Those in the halls of power will follow, if we the people lead.  It is time not for a leader, but for each of us as our own leader to speak collectively for justice and those inside Guantanamo Bay. There should be no more ghosts of Guantanamo Bay.

Rachael M. Rudolph is Head of International Relations for Facilitate Global. Rachael can be contacted rachael.rudolph@facilitateglobal.org


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