Thursday, January 12, 2017

15 Years of Guantánamo: How Many US Presidents Does It Take to Close Guantánamo? (event report)

In under a week, Barack Obama will no longer be the president of the United States of America. Nonetheless, the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, which he promised to close down as an election pledge as early as 2007 and signed an executive order to this effect as one of his first acts as president in January 2009, remains open. As Guantánamo turned 15 on 11 January 2017, 55 prisoners remain, almost all held without charge and trial. For those who face trial by military commission, evidence against them has been obtained through the use of torture.

According to the Miami Herald, only one of the remaining prisoners, an Afghan, was captured by the US military: he has been cleared for release. More than 40 were captured by foreign forces all over the world and largely sold to the US military. Victims of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme, many oare survivors and witnesses to the worst forms of torture practiced by the CIA.

As the London Guantánamo Campaign (LGC) has done each year since 2008, we marked the anniversary of the opening of this extralegal black hole with a demonstration. Around 40 people joined the LGC on a sunny afternoon outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square for a “sad clown protest”. A bright and colourful demonstration, protesters worse clown suits and shouted demands for the closure of the prison camp.
Passers-by, many of whom were unaware of the anniversary, engaged positively with the protesters and stopped to talk and take photographs. The colourful protest was attractive from afar and once people approached to see what the clowns were doing the ironic message was very clear: 15 years of Guantánamo – of torture and indefinite detention – is no laughing matter.
Next week, as a new commander in chief takes responsibility of Guantánamo, we will urge him to close the facility, end the indefinite detention of the prisoners held there and an end to the regime of torture. Protests were also held in Los Angeles and Washington DC in the USA. The London Guantánamo Campaign thanks all the enthusiastic activists who joined us.


No comments:

Post a Comment