The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) served papers the week of Jan. 30 on seven US activists relating to a march and fast the group Witness Against Torture carried out in Cuba in December. The OFAC is apparently investigating to see if there was a violation of a US ban on most forms of travel to Cuba when a group of 24 US Christians marched over 60 miles to the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to protest the indefinite detention of some 500 Muslim prisoners there. The group camped and fasted for four days outside the base.
“I find it extremely hypocritical that Washington is investigating this group for the ‘crime’ of traveling to Cuba,” said Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which replied to OFAC for the group. “The US government is flagrantly violating even the most basic norms of human rights–such as indefinite detention without charges, denial of fair trials and, most importantly, torture.”
Witness Against Torture member Gary Ashbeck noted that some of the people who received the letters were not on the trip. On their return to the US, all the protesters told customs officials that they had been to Cuba and gave their names and addresses, Ashbeck said. “It seems that despite all their new methods of spying on US citizens, our government has a very flawed intelligence program. It makes us wonder how good the intelligence is on the cases of those who are imprisoned at Guantanamo.” (Witness Against Torture press release, Feb. 7)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 12