My Husband is at the Gates of Guantanamo: Why I
Support Him

By Jessica Stewart. Jessica Stewart and her
husband, Danny Burns, live in Ithaca New York in a
Catholic Worker community. They are the parents of two
small children. To read more about the march, please
see witnesstorture.org. Jessica Stewart can be
reached at  js6076@msn.com.


Twenty-five U.S. citizens, calling themselves
Witness Against Torture, are demonstrating, fasting
and praying at the gates of the U.S. prison at
Guantanamo Bay. They marched across Cuba to get to the
prison. One of them is my husband, Danny Burns.

Danny and I have two children. Finian is three
years old and Francis is seven months. Danny is at
Guantanamo in part because of our family. What our
government is doing at Guantanamo creates an unsafe
world for our children. Our government is promoting a
global escalation of violence which makes increasing
terrorism inevitable.

I know Danny is risking retaliation by the U.S.
government for demonstrating against the illegal
actions of our government at Guantanamo. Danny and
three others in our community, Clare Grady, Teresa
Grady and Peter Demott, are awaiting sentencing in
federal court in January for an action taken on St.
Patrick’s Day in 2002 aimed at preventing the war on
Iraq. Despite that, Danny and Clare and Teresa, have
chosen to stand at the gates of Guantanamo.

The federal government wants to send a message that
dissent will be punished. We send a message back to
the government. We will stand for justice again and
again until our country respects international law,
the law of justice and universal human rights.

Danny and I think our government’s actions at
Guantanamo have been marked by a disregard for
international law. Our government has disregarded the
UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremburg Principles and
the Convention against Torture. This disregard is
not just at Guantanamo but also in the “war on
terror,” the war against Iraq and in many parts of our
global and domestic policy. When the world’s most
powerful government chooses to violate international
law, rather than follow international law and serve
the common good and further justice, the law of force
governs the world.

Danny and I know that we cannot sit back and just
complain. International law tells us that we have
responsibilities for what our country is doing. Tokyo
War Crimes Tribunal Judge Roling wrote: “The most
important principle of Nuremburg was that individuals
have duties which transcend national obligations of
obedience imposed by the nation-state…This means that
in some cases individuals are required to substitute
their own interpretation [of international
obligations] for the interpretation given by the
state.” The Judge went on to say, “The world has to
rely on individuals to oppose the criminal commands of
the government.” That is what we are trying to do.

In our religious tradition, we are called to visit
those in prison. Men and boys have been held at Camp
Delta in Guantánamo since October 2001. They are
being held with no charges. They have been denied
legal counsel. Reports of torture and abuse are
widespread. The prisoners do not know if or when they
will ever be tried or released. By visiting the
prison camp, Danny and the others can let the
prisoners know they are not forgotten.

I find myself thinking of the mothers of those
detained. What if my sons were among boys being held
at the camp? If young people in Iraq, Palestine,
Afghanistan see that American people choose to ignore
the suffering of their people under occupation and
illegal detention they will be more likely to feel
desperate and see suicide bombings and other acts of
violence as their only recourse.

Danny and I long for a world of peace built on
justice for our children. Abundance, compassion and
love should be the rule, not the exception. We want
our world to improve, not deteriorate, as our children
are growing.

A hundred years from now we want our grandchildren to
be able to look back at our actions and know that we
tried to act with integrity and for the good of
humanity. That is why my husband Danny Burns is at
the gates of Guantanamo and that is why I support him.