Saturday Jan 12, 201301:09 PM GMT
Activists renew call to close Guantanamo prison
Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:8PM
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Protestors hold placards during a rally to call for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center on January 11, 2013.

About 200 protesters from activist organizations such as Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights gathered in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, calling for the prison to finally be closed and those detained there to get fair trials or to be released. 


The demonstrators marched from the Supreme Court to Congress to the White House in Washington, chanting "Close Guantanamo now!" and "Guantanamo has to go!"


President Barack Obama vowed when he was first elected in 2008 that he would close the prison camp.


However, U.S. lawmakers passed legislation banning the military from transferring prisoners to the United States for trial or sending them abroad.


Obama, who appears to have abandoned his plans to shutter the prison, last week reauthorized the law imposing the ban -- to the frustration of rights activists who say holding inmates there indefinitely is a violation of their human rights. The News


Dozens of activists also staged a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in London. About 50 protesters, some wearing orange jumpsuits and masks of President Obama or a dark sack around their heads, turned out for the peaceful demonstration in central London. ABC News


Guantanamo Bay sends a disturbing signal to the world by regular use of torture, former detainees say. Speaking with RT, they shared painful memories and details of the day-to-day at the prison, which is famous for holding detainees without charge.


Former Guantanamo detainee Bisher Amin Khalil Al-Rawi, 52, is an Iraqi citizen who became a UK resident in 1980s. He was held in Guantanamo from 2002 to 2007. Al-Rawi told RT that he was arrested by the Gambian National Intelligence Agency while on a business trip. He was then turned over to American authorities and transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he was held on suspicion of having links with al-Qaeda.


Al-Rawi said that he still feels guilt in front of the other prisoners who have been cleared of charges, but still remain in Guantanamo.


“I do not know why I was released and others were not, especially when you know that people who have been cleared still remain in Guantanamo. At the time when I was released, I do not know whether I was cleared or not. And I think one cannot but feel uncomfortable and that guilt is lingering in you. Why am I out and they are still in there?”


“Dictators are pressing people, we all know that. But oppression from countries that have put themselves forward as the leaders of the free world, I think oppression from them should not be tolerated. The UK is my country, it is my home, but I think the government can do much more to help. The U.S. needs to be reminded of the wrongs that it is committing.”


Thirty-year old German-born Turkish national Murat Kurnaz was held in extrajudicial detention in Afghanistan, and then in Guantanamo for five years, after his 2001 arrest in Pakistan. He was nineteen at the time of his arrest. In 2008, he testified to the U.S. Congress that in addition to other forms of torture, he had survived being chained by his arms to the ceiling of an airplane hangar for three days. While in detention, military officials found the allegations that had initially brought his arrest were groundless. Kurnaz told RT that he was "sold" by Pakistani authorities, who claimed he had links to al-Qaeda, to American officials for $3,000. At Guantanamo, he says he saw many children, and was subjected to regular beatings – and worse.


"I can tell you that the reason they kept us in Guantanamo, and not a prison in the U.S., was that there’s no access there for human rights – meaning they could 'investigate' you any way they like. If you are not a terrorist, they would make you a terrorist," Kurnaz told RT.


Recounting his experience being subjected to waterboarding and electroshock torture, Kurnaz said, "they also made me sign papers that I was a member of al-Qaeda, because they didn’t have anything against me. If you weren’t a terrorist, they would make you one." He added, "every time I refused to sign, they used another kind of torture."


As for the physical conditions, Kurnaz said, "They were beating us up almost every day."


"I have seen many things during those five years – many bad things," he told RT, including "nine- or twelve-year-old" children – and prisoners killed by torture.


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