“This is not who we are” said Barack Obama about abuses of prisoners at Guantanano during a contentious speech on “national security” May 23, 2013. His speech struggled to respond to the prisoners’ hunger strike — involving most of them — which had propelled the U.S. government’s torture camp into the news in a way that brought into sharper relief the illegitimate foundation of prolonged detention without charge. Obama seemed to imply that he wanted to close Guantanamo.
But yes – this IS who you are. Two years after Obama’s words:
Guantanamo is still open. 13.5 years… with no sign of closure.
122 men remain; only 10 of them charged with anything. Most are unlikely to ever be tried in a military or civilian court, because the U.S. fears exposure of their torture methods.
57 of those men have been “cleared” for years, and yes, they need to be released now. But so do the men who won’t be charged, the so-called “forever prisoners.” There’s no legitimate war, they weren’t treated as prisoners of war anyway, and there’s no legal way to hold people without charges.
The 44 men released in the last two years mostly are without support, funds, language skills and most importantly, still far from their families. Apologies? Reparations? The U.S. has not done for them what any civilized society would do.
Every shred of justice wrung from this system of indefinite detention has come from the resistance of the prisoners themselves; from international outrage; from the dedicated work of hundreds of attorneys and thousands of activists focused to Close Guantanamo NOW. Some have published an open letter to Obama.
Our focus is not on pleading with war criminals, but with reaching the masses of people who are awakening to the outrages against the people and the planet. May 23, 2013, World Can’t Wait placed this statement in The New York Times as a full-page ad. In part, we said:
“In the name of safety, fear, or revenge, American presidents cannot be allowed to arrogate to themselves the power of judge, jury and executioner. Actions that utilize de facto torture, that run roughshod over the rule of law and due process, and that rain down terror and murder on peoples and nations, amount to war crimes. Such actions cannot in any way be morally justified in the name of ‘protecting Americans.’ The lives of people living here are not more precious than any other people’s lives.”
What has happened to the prisoners at Guantanamo featured in that ad? This is what we know:
Shaker Aamer is the last remaining British resident at Guantanamo. He was cleared for release in 2007. A delegation of British MPs is visiting Washington this week to argue for his release. The Washington Post reported last month that he MAY be released June 2015, after more than 13 years of vocal resistance to unjust imprisonment. More at We Stand with Shaker.
Adnan Latif died in September 2012, having been cleared for release three times, twice under reviews conducted by the Bush administration and once in 2009. The U.S. government has not yet apologized or paid reparations to his family after holding him without cause and torturing him for 10 years, 7 months and 25 days.
Mansoor Muhammed Ali Qatta, 32 or 33 year-old citizen of Yemen, was cleared for release 2007. As of January 2010, the Guantánamo Review Task Force had recommended him for transfer. As of May 18, 2015, he has been held at Guantánamo for 12 years 11 months.
Muieen A Deen Jamal A Deen Abd al Fusal Abd al Sattar, held without charge since 2002, is a 39-year-old citizen of the United Arab Emirates. As of January 2010, the Guantánamo Review Task Force had recommended him for transfer. As of May 18, 2015, he has been held at Guantánamo for 13 years three months.
“Model prisoner” Musa’ab Omar Al Madhwani, is a 33 or 44 year old citizen of Yemen. His petition for habeas corpus was denied January 6, 2010.
Adel Bin Ahmed Bin Ibrahim Hkiml, 50-year-old citizen of Tunisia, was transferred to Kazakhstan on December 30, 2014.
Sanad Yislam al Kazimi is a 45-year-old citizen of Yemen. As of January 2010, the Guantánamo Review Task Force had recommended him for prosecution. As of May 18, 2015, he has been held at Guantánamo for 10 years eight months.
Abdul Khaled Ahmed Sahleh al Bedani, a 31 or 32 year-old citizen of Yemen was transferred to Georgia on November 20, 2014.
The Navy nurse who refused to force-feed Guantanamo prisoners is not being prosecuted.
A small bit of good news — and hopefully inspiration to other medical personnel wrestling with their consciences.
Guantanamo Prisoners Released to Uruguay Continue to protest at the US Embassy
Cheers for these men, speaking the truth: the US has a moral responsibility to provide reparations after wrongly holding and torturing them for years at Guantanamo.
Five former detainees have camped out in front of the embassy, pursuing a meaningful measure of aid that would allow them to actually rebuild their lives in Uruguay. More at The Guardian.
Sent to Guantanamo at 15, Released at 28
Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old when captured in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo, has been released on bail in Canada after a battle in several courts, involving many attorneys, opposition from both the US and Canadian government to Omar’s rights, and international proptest. After 12 years and 10 months of imprisonment and torture, he appears to be in remarkably good spirits, saying “freedom is way better than I thought.” Andy Worthington writes about Canada’s ongoing moves to keep him in prison.