Dozens of people have staged a protest outside the White House in Washington, DC, calling on US President Barack Obama to fulfill his promise to shut down the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison.
Protesters from several groups – including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, CODEPINK, the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition, and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker – came together on Friday outside the White House to express their anger at the continued operation of the prison complex at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba.
The protest comes a year to the day Obama repeated his campaign pledge of closing the notorious prison. The protesters criticized the president's failure to keep his promise. They argue that most detainees now at Guantanamo Bay will still be there when Obama leaves office in January 2017.
On January 11, 2002, the first prisoners were airlifted into the Guantanamo prison following then US President George W. Bush’s November 13, 2001 order which authorized the establishment of the prison and detention of US-captured “terror suspects.”
Nevertheless, out of the 779 prisoners ever held at the prison, only seven men have been convicted and sentenced. According to The Guardian, those charged and convicted of a war crime were lucky because they would have a chance to get out of Guantanamo while most of the prisoners who have been held there without a charge could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
The Guantanamo prison is shrouded in reports of torture and abuse. In January, Amnesty International condemned the US for its continued operation of Guantanamo. It said the torture of detainees at the prison is a prime example of America’s double standard on human rights.
Dozens of prisoners at Guantanamo have engaged in hunger strikes for years to protest their confinement. However, US officials no longer disclose how many of the 155 prisoners at the base are on hunger strike and meet the guidelines for force-feeding.
According to the organizers of Friday’s protests outside the White House, similar protests were also held in forty cities across seven countries during a global day of action for closing the prison.