As we enter the 10th year of Guantanamo's existence, the likelihood of its closing becomes more and more remote despite the Obama Administration's promise to close the prison two year ago. The Executive Branch is poised to formalize the practice of indefinite detention for 48 of the 173 men remaining at Guantanamo and the Legislature has barred the transfer of prisoners to the U.S. for criminal trials. Habeas Corpus – the notion that one cannot be arbitrarily arrested and held without formal charge or trial – is, too many, the philosophical bedrock for modern democracy and the United States' blatant disregard for it threatens the very liberty and freedom it seeks to uphold in the “War on Terror.”
So why does Witness Against Torture return to Washington, D.C. to fast and vigil for two weeks? Where is the hope? Are not our actions pointless, full of folly? Our detractors will definitely say so. Over and over the politicos and the generals tell us the political climate is not right for the closing of Guantanamo. Yet we still show up. We witness. We fast. We protest. We vigil and leaflet and lobby. We will resist and keep showing up – getting in the way – until that prison, and all other prisons like it, are closed. We show up because it gives us hope that another way is possible. That we can, indeed, live in a world without torture. We show up because it gives a small semblance of hope to the men in Guantanamo that they have not been forgotten; that justice has not yet been totally shirked, even in spite of all the grisly appearances of Decision Points and juridical opinions.
I hope, that in this small act of solidarity and sacrifice, that my fast may be a prayer and witness to the end of torture and the restoration of human rights, dignity and common good. The groaning hunger pains and a tired body is a small price to pay when communities of faith and conscience come together to resist the evils of imperial torture. May our fast give hope to our own meager hopelessness and bear witness to the covenant that calls us to love our enemies and "to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness" (Is 42:7).