Local women protest Guantanamo Bay prison
Recorder/Paul Franz Ellen Kaufmann of Buckland and Paki Wieland of Northampton dress orange jumpsuits and black hoods to protest the Guantanamo prison as Sherrill Hogen of Conway passes out information. Purchase photo reprints »
GREENFIELD — Three local women wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods stood on the corner of Main and Chapman streets for two hours on Monday professing solidarity with Muslim prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba and hoping to remind people that there are “innocent fathers and sons still being held there who should either be tried or released.”
“We’re doing this as part of a rolling fast,” said Sherrill Hogen of Conway, who stood handing out fliers about the group Witness Against Torture, as well as information about a hunger strike more than 100 prisoners have been on at Guantanamo for the past six weeks. Guantanamo has been used to house enemy combatants in the war on terror captured shortly after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001.
Hogen said people across the country were fasting, each for 24 hours, in solidarity with the prisoners.
Some passersby took their fliers, while others refused to make eye contact with the women. A few made comments under their breath.
“We can’t let this issue die, because men are dying” said Hogen. “Those men just don’t see any way out of Guantanamo except dying.”
Hogen, along with Ellen Kaufmann of Buckland and Paki Wieland of Northampton, said they were protesting the U.S. government keeping prisoners there for more than a decade without charging or trying them.
“We want to bring awareness,” said Wieland. “Fasting in solidarity and passing information out is happening all over the United States today.”
“Today is Earth Day,” said Wieland. “We need to understand that we are one planet. There is no Planet B. Just being concerned about your ‘home team’ is obsolete and so 20th century.”
Wieland said people need to begin to see everyone and everything that happens in the world as their responsibility.
“Violence anywhere is wrong,” she said.
Hogen said prisoners at Guantanamo are isolated and are treated inhumanely.
“No one can get there,” she said. “Prisoners don’t get to have visitors. We need to either let them go or bring them to trial.”
The three women said they had not contacted any of the men’s families personally.
For more information, visit: www.witnesstorture.org.