Come On Down!

Twenty-five Christian peacemakers, members of Witness Against Torture, walked 50 miles from Santiago, Cuba, to the gates of the controversial U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay in December to protest the treatment of prisoners detained there. The group decided on the action after President Bush’s June 20, 2005, invitation that those concerned about conditions at Guantánamo were “Welcome to go down...and take a look.” However, “after repeated appeals to the White House and the Guantánamo base commander, we were denied an opportunity to perform a simple work of mercy—to visit the prisoners,” vigil member Art Laffin told Sojourners. The vigil participants carried out a three-day water-only fast at the Glorieta Cuban military checkpoint, about 10 miles from the gates of Guantánamo, in solidarity with the hunger-striking detainees. Upon returning to the United States, the Christian peacemakers were interrogated by Homeland Security and U.S. Customs agents. “We had to fill out a special Cuba form explaining why we went to Cuba without a license and what we did,” said Laffin.

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