Vigils advocating closure of Guantanamo prison held across the world Wednesday
Rights advocates worldwide held vigils on Wednesday afternoon to advocate for the release of 17 cleared detainees and more broadly for the closure of the US military detention camp.
The vigils took place in several major European and Latin American capitals as well as cities across the US, including on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, where a group of demonstrators dressed in orange jumpsuits and with black bags over their heads to symbolise the detainees.
Rights groups supporting the vigils included the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Close Guantanamo, Witness Against Torture, the UK Guantanamo Network, and NYC Veterans for Peace.
CAIR government affairs director Robert McCaw said that they were calling "for the immediate release of the seventeen men still being held at Guantanamo who have been approved for release, and we're also calling for the closure of this prison."
He noted that the prison was designed to detain individuals outside the US Constitution's reach, thereby denying detainees their due process or the expectation of a fair trial. He also noted that while 780 individuals have been detained at the prison at Guantanamo Bay over the past 21 years, not even one per cent were convicted and the vast majority have already been released.
"The indefinite detention of these individuals is a gross violation of their human rights," said McCaw. "And the continued operation of this prison at Guantanamo remains a stain on the United States human rights record and must be addressed by the Biden administration and no longer ignored by Congress.
He urged the US to close this "forever prison" and to "end this dark chapter in this nation's history" and ensure justice is served for all.
Moving forward, the campaign, called Close Guantanamo, plans to hold vigils across the world on the first Wednesday of every month to advocate for the release of the 17 cleared detainees and to urge for the closure of the facility.