We're Going to #CloseGitmo!

closegitmoAnother January 11th  Guantanamo  anniversary has come and gone, and still 198 men are detained at the facility (and hundreds more at Bagram). Over the last year there has been some progress, but not with the kind of momentum that we had hoped for last January.  Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the Executive Order that President Obama drafted to have the Guantanamo Detention Facility closed within a year, but unfortunately, the detention facility is still open.  The military commissions process continues. And some in the Obama Administration seem to be flirting with the idea of indefinite detention (just in a US-based facility vs. Gitmo). The failed Bush-era policies on torture and indefinite and illegal detention sadly continue to linger on.  And thus the need for our important human rights work continues!

Last week on January 11th, we launched 10,000 Against Torture, a project to demonstrate to the White House and Congress, that Americans want both security AND respect for the rule of law. Over the next weeks, we’ll be doing weekly actions calling for the closure of Gitmo (in a way that respects human rights!) and accountability for these failed policies on torture and indefinite detention.

To mark the missed deadline tomorrow, we’ll be joining MoveOn, ACLU, Human Rights Watch and artists like Coldplay, Tom Morello, and others, by using Twitter and Facebook to get everyone online talking about closing Guantánamo.

Join us by taking action online today, January 21 and tomorrow, January 22:

  • Tweet messages with the “#closegitmo” hashtag (if you follow the  Amnesty USA, you can re-tweet messages that we will be posting)
  • Spread the word! Our goal is to make #closegitmo a top trending topic, and our success depends on reaching many people in a short amount of time to jump-start the conversation. Help us deliver this important message by asking others to join us (especially those with large followings online!)

Written by Njambi Good, Director of Counter Terror with Justice (CTWJ) campaign for Amnesty International USA

Musicians Shine a Light on Human Rights

It’s amazing the power that music has to inspire people to stand up for what they believe in.  And it’s also amazing how human rights inspire musicians.  There’s a trio of artists who lent their voices this past Human Rights Day and they each have a unique story of their own…

Tom Morello, a talented guitar player, has social activism streaming through his blood.  His mother founded the anti-censorship group, Parents for Rock and Rap and his father was Kenya’s first UN ambassador, so Tom’s long term involvement with social justice and human rights, comes as no surprise.  Amnesty International and Tom Morello have been partnering together for many years (along with his NGO, Axis of Justice).  His most recent collaboration is a duo of cover tunes that he recorded for the Lime Wire Store’s Live at Lime Sessions.  The music was released on December 10, Human Rights Day and proceeds from the sale of these songs were in benefit to Amnesty International. Aside from the songs, there was also a fascinating interview with Henry Rollins and Tom Morello,  about major issues that face all of us.

After an inspiring trip to South Africa,  26-year-old keyboardist, vocalist, composer, and songwriter Salvador Santana decided to use his music as a way to give back to those in need.  His new album, Keyboard City doesn’t come out until February, but Salvador is giving a song away, “Truth Fears No Questions,” for free in honor of Amnesty’s Global Write-a-Thon and the Women Of Atenco, with  the hope of inspiring action.

Finally, Portishead, the UK based, Mercury Prize winning band, wrote a song for Amnesty International in honor of Human Rights day: “Chase the Tear.” It is available as an exclusive download single from 7 digital from 10 December, with all earnings going towards Amnesty’s human rights work and all rights given to the organization.

Let’s toast to these amazing musicians for lending their talent to human rights and showing the world that through music, you can shine a light on those who are in darkness.

This post was contributed by Karen Scott, Music for Human Rights.