Tomorrow, Wednesday 11 January, human rights campaigners will mark the 15th year of with a silent demonstration in Trafalgar Square from 12 noon. They will be dressed as sad clowns to signify that 15 years of indefinite detention without charge in Guantánamo is no joke.
This demonstration also marks the failure of President Obama to fulfil his first pledge as president, eight years ago, to close Guantánamo. He consistently acknowledged that its existence is a stain on the US and on his presidency. To date, 55 prisoners remain there, isolated from the rest of the world. Of these, 19 have been approved for release and 26 are indefinitely imprisoned without charge. Seven prisoners face charges in a fake military commission court process that has nothing in common with justice. All these remaining prisoners should be shown compassion. They should be allowed to leave immediately before takes over. They are now old and infirm, many need walking aids or wheelchairs. They have suffered enough.
Over the long years of this notorious torture camp, over 780 men were held there. There has been no apology to any of them for their lost time with their families and for their years of torture and abuse. There have been no apologies to the families of the nine prisoners who died there. The scars of the beatings, the fear of being dragged and restrained and cruelly force-fed, the pain of broken limbs, are still with the survivors of this shameful place.
Obama failed these men and now Trump’s nightmare promise to fill Guantánamo with “bad dudes” means that the US will continue to violate international human rights laws. We have to keep protesting for the closure of the US prison at Guantánamo Bay and for the return of its 45 square miles to Cuba.