6 June 2013
For Immediate Release
Washington DC– This week 7 Americans announced their intention to travel to Yemen from June 11-18 on a peace delegation to meet with victims of US drone strikes and family members of Yemeni Guantanamo prisoners cleared for release. Yemen is the country with the most Guantanamo prisoners (86 of the 166 prisoners) and the most US drone strikes. Delegates are calling for relations between the U.S. and Yemen to be based on diplomacy and adherence to international law, not drone strikes and indefinite detention.
The delegation, organized by the U.S. group CODEPINK, will meet with government leaders, drone victim families, lawyers, academics, representatives of major Yemeni political parties and US officials. The delegation includes a woman who lost her sister in the 9/11 attacks and is a member of 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows; a retired Colonel and State Department official; political analysts; and the founders of CODEPINK. All understand the risks involved in traveling to a dangerous area, but are determined to stand in solidarity with Yemenis who suffer from a militarized U.S. foreign policy.
While in Yemen, the peace delegation will meet with family members of some of the 56 Yemeni prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who have been cleared for release, yet continue to be held. “We absolutely need to close Guantanamo Bay Prison,” said Colonel Ann Wright of CODEPINK and Veterans for Peace. “President Obama can take action by immediately releasing the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release, then formally charge and try the remaining prisoners in fair and open proceedings.”
The delegation will also meet with survivors of American drone strikes, a military tactic that members of the delegation consider immoral, illegal and counterproductive. “It is long past time to stop the lethal drone strikes in Yemen,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. “The drone strikes have killed countless civilians, are a recruiting tool for extremists and spread anti-American sentiment. We are traveling to Yemen as citizen diplomats to show the people there that not all Americans support these policies of terror and assassination, and we know that peace cannot be achieved by dropping Hellfire missiles from Predator drones.”
“By killing by remote control and locking people up indefinitely, we will be constantly creating new enemies and jeopardizing our national security,” commented CODEPINK co-founder Jodie Evans. “Respecting human rights, international law and the guarantees provided in our Constitution is the best way to keep our nation secure.”
Most of the group will leave the U.S. on June 9, arriving in Yemen on June 11th and staying until June 18.