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General News    H3'ed 6/22/13

American Activists Praise NDC, Protest US Foreign Policy

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Source: Yemen Times

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The organization of American activists Codepink wrapped up a week-long visit to Yemen on Tuesday, over the course of which they met with local human rights organizations, families of Yemeni prisoners in Guantanamo and those whose lives have been affected by American drone strikes as well as Yemeni officials and the American ambassador.

The group of seven Americans met with Hood, the Yemeni organization for human rights, and a number of other independent activists and staged a demonstration in front of the American embassy in protest of ongoing U.S. policies which affect this country, including the imprisonment of 86 Yemenis in the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba.

Of the total 166 prisoners being held in Guantanamo, more than 100 are on hunger strike.

"The prisoners' health continues to deteriorate but we still have no action from President Obama," Codepink cofounder Medea Benjamin said in a press release. "That's just unacceptable."

A delegation of American activists from Codepink paid a similar visit to Pakistan earlier this year, another country in which American drones are regularly active. 

Both visits present an alternative to conventional diplomacy, the organization stated on their website and offer a chance for Americans to stand in solidarity with countries affected by American foreign policy.

On Sunday, June 16, hundreds of local activists joined Codepink in front of the American embassy calling for the close of the detention center which was opened in 2002 to hold suspects in America's so-called war on terror.

Members of Codepink also met with Yemeni officials, including participants in the ongoing National Dialogue Conference. "The entire world is watching and supports your work," the activist group wrote in a letter addressed to NDC participants.

Codepink also appealed to NDC members to join them in combating a proposed amendment to the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act that would -- if passed by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Barack Obama -- prohibit any funds from the Department of Defense from being used to transfer or release Guantanamo detainees to either the Yemeni government or any entity or group in the country.

Most significantly, Codepink indicated in their letter, is the fact that this amendment could violate the sovereignty of Yemen, as a a rehabilitation center for Yemeni prisoners returning from Guantanamo is now in the works. 

Codepink urged NDC members to draft a letter of protest to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, as this amendment, they said, could also violate the process of the ongoing national dialogue.

In addition to this visit to Yemen, two members of the activist group have also joined the Guantanamo prisoners in their hunger strike. 

Co-founder Diane Wilson has been on a water-only fast since May 1 and Veterans for Peace member Brian Wilson and former president of Veterans for Peace, Elliott Adams have been fasting since May 12 and 17, respectively.

Wilson explained her reasons for fasting in May. "I stand in solidarity with the Guantanamo prisoners on their hunger strike," she wrote. "I will continue to fast indefinitely until justice comes."
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