Los Angeles—On Jan. 10, 150 activists gathered outside the downtown Federal Building to protest the ongoing torture and indefinite detentions of Muslim prisoners for a decade, without charges. The press conference was sponsored by Amnesty International, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, and Immigrant Communities for Justice and Peace. Pacifica Radio KPFK, Global TV and other independent media along with Channel 7 were there.
Some of the many signs read “Extraordinary Rendition,” “Close Guantanamo,” “Abu Ghraib,” “Bagram,” “Torture = War Crime,” “Drones, torture, indefinite detention,” and “Stop the crimes of your government.”
There was street theater. Sixteen people dressed in orange jump suits and black hoods over their heads were handcuffed behind their backs and knelt down during the speeches.
National radio DJ Casey Kasem was the first speaker. Another speaker said President Obama is the commander-in-chief of the biggest surveillance state ever. Others declared: No torture in our name. Shut down Guantanamo.
Names were read of those “cleared for transfer out of Guantanamo” yet still imprisoned there. An attorney who visited his client, Mohammed, three times in Guantanamo said torture has nothing to do with terrorist activity. Over 150 prisoners with no criminal, let alone terrorist, charges are still detained. Other speakers said the U.S. has trained other countries in interrogation and torture techniques and that torture is used, not to get information, but to create terror and fear in the community. There was a critique of the Academy- Award-nominated film Zero Dark Thirty because it calls torture “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
The press conference ended imploring people to call Congress and President Obama.