Activists Call on Pres. Obama to Close Guantanamo, End Torture
BOSTON/Boston Common - Marking a year since President Obama repeated his intention to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and release prisoners held there, activists called on the president to follow through on his promise.
A small number of activists rallied on Boston Common in the event organized by Witness Against Torture on Friday, and joining demonstrations in several other cities in the US and around the world.
Susan McLucas, one of the organizers of the demonstration, said that "we are out here today, because it’s one year since the most recent time when Obama said that he would close down Guantanamo.
“He took a lofty tone,” she continued, “he talked about the hunger strikers being force-fed, and he said, ‘is this the America we want to leave to our children?’ as if he were totally incapable of doing anything about it … I believe he could’ve done a lot more in the intervening time.”
Doris Tennant, an attorney who has represented Guantanamo detainees, said she’s “very proud to be a member of the so-called Guantanamo Bar Association.’”
She explained that “only twelve prisoners have been transferred since Obama’s speech a year ago, a hundred and fifty four men remain there, and about half of those have been cleared for release,” and that “many others are still held there without trial.”
According to Tennant, “there are 56 Yemenis who are cleared for release, and they continue to be detained … and so they really do continue to endure collective punishment based on their nationality.”
Tennant spoke about 36-year-old Yemeni man Adnan Latif, held in Guantanamo for 11 years despite being cleared for release by authorities, and who was found unresponsive in his cell in 2011 and later died.
She said that there are also “44 men in Guantanamo who’ve been designated for indefinite detention, which is what we say our country does not do, but these men have been designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial by the US, and they’re deemed to be too dangerous to transfer too dangerous to trial.”
Cynthia Gabriel, an organizer with Amnesty International, said that “we work to protect the human rights of people like Shaker Ameer, who has been held at Guantanamo since January 2002; that is 12 years he’s been held in indefinite detention, he has not been tried, he has been tortured.
“Shaker Ameer has a family,” she continued, “he was living in the United Kingdom, and then he went to Afghanistan to live with his family, and he was picked up by Afghani military forces and transferred to US military forces, and then brought to Guantanamo.
She said, “the United States should not be in the business of torture, we should not be in the business of holding people under indefinite detention, that’s not the country that we are … it is a stain on who we are as a country, we’re better than that.”
Open Media Boston contacted the White House press office for a statement in response to the rally, but did not receive a response before the filing of this report.