WASHINGTON (AA) – More than 150 organizations have sent a letter to US President Joe Biden, urging him to “prioritize closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”
The letter was signed by 159 organizations from the US and other countries who called themselves a “diverse group of non-governmental organizations” working on issues including human rights, immigrants’ rights, racial justice and combating anti-Muslim discrimination.
“It is long past time for both a sea change in the United States’ approach to national and human security, and a meaningful reckoning with the full scope of damage that the post-9/11 approach has caused. Closing the Guantanamo detention facility, ending indefinite military detention of those held there, and never again using the military base for unlawful mass detention of any group of people are necessary steps towards those ends,” they wrote in the letter.
“We urge you to act without delay, and in a just manner that considers the harm done to the men who have been detained indefinitely without charge or fair trials for two decades,” they added.
Meanwhile, a virtual rally has been held on Wednesday to mark 21 years since the opening of the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, which was created after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to hold terrorist suspects captured in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
The virtual event was attended by many people from different locations, including activists, lawyers and human rights advocates, who demanded the closure of the notorious prison which the US leased from Cuba in 1903 as a coaling station and naval base.
Among the speakers were Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International USA’s Director of Security with Human Rights, Aliya Hana Hussain, Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights and Andy Worthington of the Close Guantanamo campaign as well as other advocates, with Lu Aya, co-founder of The Peace Poets, the moderator.
The participants called on the US government to close Guantanamo prison while talking about the stories of injustice.
Besides calling for justice, the participants marked the 21st anniversary of Guantanamo by reading poems and singing tribute songs.
Like other speakers, Maha Hilal, an author and the co-director of Justice for Muslims Collective, called for the closure of Guantanamo because “it has destroyed the lives of so many Muslim men and boys.”
“As we call for the closure of Guantanamo, we call for the abolition of Guantanamo, and an end to Islamophobia,” she said.
The detention camp is notorious for prison torture, abuse and illegal detention of so called ‘enemy combatants.’ Also known as “Gitmo,” it has held roughly 780 Muslim detainees since it was opened, many of whom recount having undergone unspeakable horrors. Most of the detainees are held without charge or trial, on the grounds of mere suspicion during George W. Bush’s so-called ‘War on Terror.’ Currently, 35 detainees remain and 20 of them are eligible for transfer.