To mark the 11th year since the establishment of Guantanamo Bay prison camp, the London Guantanamo campaign held tours around London highlighting the cases of 5 prisoners who are under illegal detention. With the exception of Adnan Latif who died in Guantanamo in September 2012 in what is widely speculated as suspicious circumstances; and Omar Khader who is now being held in a maximum prison in Canada.
The tours started off outside embassies of countries believed to have been complicit in any way in the US-Led rendition, detention and torture programme. The tours ended at the US embassy symbolising and mapping each detainees ‘road’ to Guantanamo.
For the past 11 years Guantanamo has held just under 800 prisoners, the majority have now been released but have suffered years of solitary confinement and according to human rights campaigners years of torture and abuse. The vast majority of the remaining 166 prisoners have been cleared for release but as of yet have no freedom in sight. At least 30 Yemeni nationals have also been cleared for release but due to the Obama administration concluding that Yemen is too dangerous, there is a ban on return to Yemen; their lives in limbo innocent yet still imprisoned.
Around 70 peaceful protesters were present at the vigil outside the US embassy, they lit candles and some were in orange jumpsuits wearing Obama masks and holding quotes of Obama’s pledge to close Guantanamo. As they all stood outside the embassy they read out the names of all the imprisoned; while chanting ‘Shame on you’ and ‘close Guantanamo’. Student Alice who came to show solidarity stated she did so because ‘Regardless of race, religion and nationality they’re human and should be treated so”. While graduate Naima stated “I believe its a citizens duty to fight for injustices faced by others”.
Activists, campaigners and citizens called for Guantanamo to be closed and all illegally detained prisoners to be released. London Guantanamo campaigner and organiser Aisha Maniar in a press release stated “The failure of the United States to recognise international law and due process rights is also the failure of the international community, through its collusion in the torture and “rendition” of these men to Guantánamo Bay, and its failure to assist in closing it down. However, campaigners around the world will not be silenced. We will continue to remind the US government and all other complicit states of their obligations under international law and of the human rights norms they claim to support.”
Campaigners stated that regardless of how long it takes, as long as the US is complicit in crimes and continues to deny human rights, they will continue to raise awareness and they’ll continue to fight on for the rights of detainees illegally held.