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Catholic Worker plans Guantanamo protests over Lent
Twenty-five people based at a Catholic Worker Community in New York City have gained international attention for their protest against US policy on the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.
They now have plans to extend the protest over the season of Lent, which begins next month.
Members of the group, known for its support for non-violent action, launched Witness Against Torture, a campaign which culminated in a protest and prayer vigil in mid-December outside the prison camp at the US naval base where an estimated 500 prisoners are held.
Lawyers and human rights activists say that people at Guantanamo are being held without due process, in inhuman conditions, with no prospect of release and in defiance of international law and democratic order.
Catholic Worker now intends to protest in Washington DC on Ash Wednesday, 1 March. This is a traditional time of repentance in the Christian tradition, and the culmination of Lent - a period of self-examination derived from Jesus' testing time in the wilderness.
Peace campaigners across the world also use the occasion to remind governments and their backers of the sin of war and violence, often using ashes and blood to dramatize their point.
The Witness Against Torture marchers were the first American Christians ever to approach the prison, where it has been suggested hundreds of inmates have been tortured and humiliated.
During their march in December 2005, the participants prayed for the Guantanamo detainees and for the four Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages in Iraq - Norman Kember, Tom Fox, Jim Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden.
In pictures broadcast around the world, the Catholic Worker members had been shown dressed in orange jump suits and chains, representing the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
[Also on Ekklesia: Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay ; Churches turn fire on interrogation techniques of US and others ; Hope continues as Iraq captive deadline looms ; Christian Peacemaker Teams seek meeting with President Bush ; Praying for a miracle amid Iraq hostage silence ; Concern over forced closure of churches in Cuba ]