As President Obama begins the final days of his presidency, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) launched an aggressive effort urging him to use all the powers of his office to close Guantánamo before his term ends. With an open letter to the president, a hard-hitting bus shelter ad campaign targeting key locations in Washington, D.C., online advertising and a coalition White House rally planned for Guantánamo’s 15th anniversary on Jan. 11, Amnesty is seeking to move Obama to action before President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20.
“Amnesty International USA is mobilizing its 1.2 million grassroots supporters and all others who stand for human rights to tell President Obama that Guantánamo cannot be left to President-elect Trump,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of AIUSA. “We are incredibly concerned about human rights in the upcoming Trump administration, and that includes the president-elect’s promise to expand Guantánamo’s population. We cannot risk letting this institution of injustice become permanent. President Obama must act boldly now and do all he can in the time left to fulfill his promise to close Guantánamo.”
Amnesty’s bus shelter and online ads feature an image of the Statue of Liberty in a crowd of people, all clad in Guantánamo’s notorious orange jumpsuits, with the message “Don’t Leave Guantánamo to Trump.” The ad points to Amnesty’s online action telling President Obama to finish the job and shut down Guantánamo for good. The ads will run in D.C. for several weeks, through the end of Obama’s administration.
Details on the Jan. 11 rally, a coalition effort with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Reprieve, Veterans for Peace, Witness Against Torture, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and others are forthcoming.
The open letter sent today to Obama from Huang reads, in part:
“Despite your positive actions to date, your legacy will include failing to cure this corruption of our country’s ideals of justice and fairness. You will leave behind Guantánamo as a system of injustice that—having survived for 15 years, two political parties and four presidential terms of office—may remain open for the foreseeable future.
Our concern is heightened by the sharp rise in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric during the election. Proposals for large-scale detention without charge, which once seemed inconceivable, are now on the table as options your successor may pursue. Guantánamo, with its shameful tradition of secrecy and insularity from legal process, would be all too convenient a location for mass imprisonment, returning the United States to one of its grimmest chapters.
“…You began your presidency with an executive order to end the Guantánamo detentions and to close the detention camp there.We urge you to end it with bold action to realize your promise.”