Facing the potential of lifetimes of detention, almost 800 people have been subjected to torture and imprisonment without trial in America’s Detention Center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (also known as Guantanamo or Gitmo). Today 41 prisoners remain in Guantanamo, though 5 of these prisoners have been cleared for release by the US government through a review board consisting of the CIA, FBI, DOD, DOJ and the State Department. In 2017, Trump halted all transfers from the prison upon taking office.
History of Gitmo
Guantanamo Bay has been in operation for 15 years and was put in place by the president George W. Bush’s administration during the War on Terror. The detention center functions as a holding place and torture center run by the U.S. that is not held accountable by American law since the facility is outside the U.S. borders. Guantanamo Bay is seen by advocacy group Amnesty International and much of the world as a violation of human rights, and a violation on the International Geneva Convention pertaining to torture.
When Barack Obama became president, he promised he would close the detention center. Though he substantially reduced the number of men held at the detention center, Obama was unable to close Guantanamo.
Most of the prisoners have been from the Middle East, or Northern Africa. Many men at Guantanamo are considered “forever prisoners;” they have never been charged with a crime, and might never be. A few of the men are facing charges by the Military Commissions, which is not the same as an American court trial.
The presence of Guantanamo Bay Detention Centerion “feeds a resurgent Islamophobia and politics of fear and hate,” according to Winess Against Torture, a human rights group advocating for the closure of Guantanamo. Far from housing the “worst terrorists,” as Bush initially claimed, Guantanamo holds mostly men who have never been directly connected to any hostility toward the U.S.
On May 26th Witness Against Torture launched a social media campaign to bring awareness to these issues using the hashtag: #foreverhumanbeings. Over the next 41 days the campaign will shed light on each of the men still imprisoned at Guantanamo. On June 23rd there will be an all day vigil at the White House organized by Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC).
All photo credit goes to Witness Against Torture
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