Ten Years Too Long: Time to Close Guantanamo

January 11,2012 marks the ten-year “anniversary” of the first detainees imprisoned at theUS Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Today, nearly 170 men remain inGuantanamo–incarcerated without ever having been tried for a crime, yet livingin severe conditions and cut off from their families and communities. Many havesurvived torture and abuse at the hands of their American captors. They do notknow when, if ever, they will leave the prison. It is time to close Guantanamoand stop this illegal and immoral practice.

Despitehaving promised to shutter the prison three years ago, President Obama recentlysigned into law the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 (NDAA), whichmakes military indefinite detention permanent for some individuals and placesextraordinary restrictions on the ability to transfer the men at Guantanamo—themajority of whom have been cleared for release—home or to other safe countries.With these laws in place, it will be difficult for the President to make goodon his promise to close Guantanamo, unless the American people stand up for justiceand human rights.

On January 11,PHR joins a broad coalition of human rights groups and like-mindedorganizations to mark the ten-year existence of a prison that symbolizestorture and the absence of the rule of law. On Wednesday, January 11, 2012, in Washington DC, a rally will be held at Lafayette Parkbeginning at 12 p.m., followed by a human chain vigil at 1 p.m. that extendsfrom the White House to the Capitol, illustrating the complicity of theAmerican government in human rights violations. Participantsare expressing their opposition of the detention provisions in the NDAA and areurging President Obama to keep his promise and shut down the detentionfacility.

Speakersat the rally include Colonel Morris Davis, executive director of the Crimes ofWar Education Project, who previously served as the chief prosecutor for theoffice of military commissions at Guantánamo Bay; Talat Hamdani, mother ofSalman Hamdani, an emergency medical technician who died in the September 11,2001 attacks while helping people at the Twin Towers in New York City, andRamzi Kassem, an attorney who represents Guantanamo and Bagram detainees.

Guantanamohas become a place to hold human beings indefinitely, without charge or trial. AsPHR has reported, medical evidence demonstrates thatindefinite detention can cause lasting physical and psychological damage thatmay rise to the level of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Wethe People must insist our government stop violating the same human rights weare trying to promote worldwide. Guantanamo and the practice of indefinitedetention committed at home and on our behalf must end.

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