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  • Human Rights Advocates Demonstrate, Demand Guantanamo’s Closure

    | Photo: Center for Constitutional rights (Twitter)

Published 12 January 2020

Jan. 11 marked the 18th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp opening.

As Jan. 11 marked the 18th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp opening by the United States, human rights activists rallied Saturday outside the White House to demand the prison's immediate closure and an end to “years of torture and human rights violations.”

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The organizers explained on social media that their goal was to call "attention to the brutality of the prison, including indefinite detention, and for an end to any and all uses of torture."

"We cannot let Guantanamo disappear from public consciousness," they said.

Participants carried signs which read "Close Guantanamo now!" and "Investigate and prosecute U.S. torture!", while other placards shared the stories of people detained at the detention facility. Some of the activists wore orange jumpsuits and black hoods.

In addition to the rally outside the White House, the demonstrators carried nine coffins for nine detainees who have died at the prison and held a funeral procession, which ended at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. 

The U.S. President Donald Trump outraged human rights defenders after he signed an executive order a year ago to keep the detention camp indefinitely open, revoking an order from his predecessor to close the prison. 

"Three United States presidents have overseen Guantanamo during its shameful 18-year existence,” Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International USA said in a statement.

“Yet it continues to remain open as people who have never been granted a trial are still detained and as they age and face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in the prison, dying far away from the families and loved ones they have not seen in years." 

"It is well past time that Guantanamo close once and for all, and all the men who have long ago been cleared for release are transferred to countries that have agreed to accept them," Eviatar added.

"Guantanamo currently holds 40 individuals: all Muslim men, many of whom were tortured in the camp," Amnesty's statement read. 

"Several detainees are experiencing health problems as a result of years of detention and instances of torture and other ill-treatment. Some remain detained despite having been cleared for transfer for years. This includes Toffiq al-Bihani, who has been imprisoned for eight years without trial."

The rally included Amnesty International USA, Witness Against Torture, Defending Rights & Dissent among other organizations.

The military prison located on the coast of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba was established by former U.S. President George W. Bush's administration in 2002 during the period of the so-called “War on Terror.” His successor Barack Obama promised to close it but met strong opposition from Congress.

The camp’s operations and practices including indefinite detention without trial and torture are considered a major and grave breach of human rights by several international organizations.

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