LONDON – Together the undersigned organizations call for the prison at GuantÃ¡namo Bay, Cuba, to be closed, and we ask President Obama and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to swiftly transfer the 57 prisoners at GuantÃ¡namo who have already been cleared for transfer–the majority for over five years–and release or charge in a federal court those who have not been cleared for transfer.
May 23 marks the second anniversary of President Obama’s promise to resume releasing prisoners from GuantÃ¡namo, after Congress raised legislative obstacles, which he made during remarks at the National Defense University. The President’s promise was prompted in particular by a prison-wide hunger strike at GuantÃ¡namo, undertaken by men who–according to SOUTHCOM Commander General John Kelly–were “devastated” that the administration had “backed off” closing the prison.
Since that speech, 44 men have been freed. However, 122 men remain at GuantÃ¡namo, even though almost all of them have never been charged, let alone tried, for any crime. It is time for President Obama, and Defense Secretary Carter, to take action to transfer the 57 men still held who have already been approved to leave GuantÃ¡namo, and to release or charge in federal court those who remain.
Today, just days before the anniversary of President Obama’s promise, a delegation of British MPs is visiting Washington, D.C., to discuss the release of Shaker Aamer, one of the 57 and the last British resident in GuantÃ¡namo. This follows the creation of a cross-party Parliamentary Group, and a motion passed by the British Parliament in March, calling for his release and return to his family in the U.K., and a similar call made by Prime Minister David Cameron in a meeting with President Obama in January.
As well as calling for the transfer of the 57 men cleared for transfer, including Shaker Aamer, we also call on the administration to speed up the Periodic Review Boards (PRBs), designed to review the cases of the men who have not been cleared for transfer and are not facing trials. Since the PRBs began in November 2013, 14 men have been reviewed and nine have been cleared for transfer. If the process does not speed up, it will take until January 2021 to complete the reviews–19 years after GuantÃ¡namo first opened.
The prison at GuantÃ¡namo is an expensive mistake that–according to national security officials, and President Obama–harms U.S. security interests. The U.S. government must act to close the prison as quickly as possible.
Amnesty International USA
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT)
No More GuantÃ¡namos
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC)
Veterans for Peace
We Stand With Shaker
Witness Against Torture
This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.