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  • File photo of activists protesting against the Guantanamo Bay site.

    File photo of activists protesting against the Guantanamo Bay site. | Photo: AFP

Published 11 January 2016

As Guantanamo Bay enters its 15th year of operations, activists say its time for the controversial site to be closed.

Anti-Guantanamo Bay protesters rallied in Washington, D.C. Monday after the Obama administration again vowed to seek to close the controversial detention site.

“This is the president’s last chance to keep his promise and close Guantanamo,” a coalition of social movements and human rights groups said in a statement.

“If he does not do so, there is a real chance that the current detainees will die there, and that more detainees will join them,” they warned.

More than a dozen organizations have joined protests in Washington calling for Guantanamo to be closed. The protest kicked off at midday with an interfaith service in front of the White House and will be followed by a larger protest in the capital.

IN DEPTH: Gitmo Starts 15th Year

On Sunday night, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, said the administration is set to again push for the site's closure.

Speaking to Fox News, McDonough said Obama will soon present a road map to Congress.

Congress is dominated by Republicans, many of whom staunchly oppose closure of the site.

If Congress refuses to act on closing Guantanamo, McDonough indicated Obama is yet to determine what course of action to take.

However, the chief of staff said Obama remains committed to his 2008 election pledge to shut down the site.

"He feels an obligation to the next president. He will fix this so that they don't have to be confronted with the same set of challenges," McDonough said.

Since coming to office, Obama has repeatedly said closure of the site is a priority.

However, Obama signed legislation Jan. 7, 2011, making it close to impossible to transfer Guantanamo detainees out of the site.

Over 100 detainees remain in Guantanamo. Twenty-two were children when they were detained, and 45 have been cleared for release but remain imprisoned.

The Pentagon said in a statement Monday that a Saudi man had been repatriated from the Guantanamo Bay military prison to Saudi Arabia, leaving 103 detainees at the facility.

OPINION: Happy Birthday, Guantanamo

The United Nations has repeatedly demanded the United States close the site.

Marking the 14th anniversary of the site's opening in 2002, on Monday officials from the U.N.'s Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe issued a letter reiterating opposition to the site.

The letter also called for U.S. officials accused of human rights abuses linked to Guantanamo to face justice.

“We call on the U.S. government: to promptly close down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility; to end the prolonged arbitrary detention of all persons held at Guantanamo Bay by promptly releasing them to their home country or to a third country should they be at risk of persecution, or by transferring them to regular detention centers on the United States mainland,” the letter said.

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