On the 18th Anniversary Of the Opening of Guantanamo Bay Prison

January 11, 2020

Speech Delivered at the “Justice Now: Close Guantánamo & End Torture Rally”

My nephew, Adam Arias, was murdered on 9/11 in the World Trade Center with almost 3000 other human beings.  Who did it?  We think we know.  Have they been brought to justice through fair trials?  Not yet.  Families like mine are still waiting for justice…an unthinkable 19 years after the fact.  Does it still hurt?  You bet.
Guantanamo opened 18 years ago to hold and try those responsible. But here we are almost two decades later.  And here I am back in Lafayette Park where I spoke at the 2014 Close Guantanamo Rally…now 5 years later with much the same speech.
Justice is not only required for those accused – the families of the victims have been sorely mistreated by the interminable delays and the confusing and confused legal convolutions that have marked these pre-trial hearings of the US Military Commission in Guantanamo.  Initially charged with bringing swift justice for the victims, the families and the accused, the Commission has lumbered on for years without coming to trial.  The five men accused in this instance were indicted in 2012, and although dates have frequently been set for trial, the latest being 2021, those dates have repeatedly and inevitably crept further away.
I have heard that jail cells are being modified to accept wheel chairs for the aging  prisoners. Meanwhile, many family members have died without gaining any hope of justice.  Adam’s mother, my sister, died five years ago.  Adam’s father, my brother-in-law, died two weeks ago. Justice delayed has irrevocably been denied for them.
Nineteen years after 9/11 the pain remains.  In an interview with a British film company that will be doing a documentary on the 20th anniversary of Guantanamo – yes – they are sinking their resources into that as a sure thing – I related to them my experiences of the week when Adam was lost.  To my surprise, when I began to tell them of searching for him I broke down.  Yes, it still hurts when you lose someone you love.
How I wish I could move officials in the position to expedite 9/11 justice!!! Adam’s brothers and sisters still long for it.
There is an inscription on an historic court building in New York that says, “Every law not based on wisdom is a menace to the state.”
This is true for the laws and edicts that sanctioned torture and set Guantanamo prison up, and for the restrictions Congress has placed on the transfer of prisoners. Both the laws and the place must be abolished.
When will we see real justice and close this shameful gulag? When will families like mine know justice can be done for our loved ones?
Isn’t it time we, as true Americans, resolve to close Guantanamo now and make amends to those harmed?   Haven’t we yet reached the maturity of spirit to want to live peacefully with our neighbors on this small planet?

Valerie Lucznikowska

 

Filed in: Guantanamo, Home, Restoring Rule of Law, Rule of Law: Guantanamo and Civil Liberties, Torture and Challenges to Human Rights, Valerie Lucznikowska

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