BY DENNIS SADOWSKI
A group of Catholic and other activists has renewed its push for the immediate closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, undertaking 11 days of fasting, prayer, meditation and public action, .
Members of Witness Against Torture, established in 2005 with the goal of closing the prison housing suspected terrorists, began their fast on Monday at the White House. The group marked the eighth anniversary of the prison’s opening with a march through Washington.
The group argues that the men cleared by the government of any wrongdoing should be released and that those suspected of terrorism should face trial rather than continue to be held indefinitely without charge.
During a demonstration at Lafayette Park near the White House, several group members expressed disappointment that President Barack Obama had not adhered to his pledge to close the prison within one year of taking office.
Matt Daloisio, a member of Witness Against Torture, said the sense of hope he felt a year ago when Mr Obama signed an executive order to close the prison within a year has diminished.
“I don’t want to call it despair, but there’s a profound disappointment,” he said.
In November Mr Obama backed away from the oneyear deadline he set for closing the prison in an executive order signed two days after his inauguration. His order to ban the use of torture remains in place.
About 200 people gathered for the start of an 11-day series of events in Washington to raise awareness about the Guantanamo situation. About 40 people were dressed in orange jumpsuits – similar to those worn by the 198 detainees remaining in the prison – and processed under the direction of a member who portrayed a soldier in camouflage.