Demonstrations across the nation on Friday are marking the somber, 11th anniversary of the opening of the US-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which rights groups describe as a "gulag," "medieval torture chamber" and "a sad reminder of our country's flagrant disregard for justice."
Nearly four years after signing an executive order to close Guantanamo within a year, Democracy Now! reports that "President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, barring the use of federal funds to transfer detainees from the notorious prison to U.S. soil."
Although 86 of the 166 detainees still remaining at Guantanamo have been cleared for release, Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, tells the Real News, "The only way people seem to be getting out of the camp now is by death."
Since its first day, "the story of Guantanamo," writes Center for Constitutional Rights Director Vince Warren, "has been one of injustice and illegality."
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"The US gulag Guantanamo Bay is a disgrace where men are abused, and where any notion of human rights or the rule of law is flagrantly disregarded. In the US films which purport to justify torture are being nominated for awards, those who did the torturing enjoying immunity and the courageous people who expose wrongdoing are prosecuted for violating secrecy. Those who continue to be subjected to abuse and indefinite detention are all but forgotten. —Clive Stafford Smith, Director, Reprieve
“When President Obama caved in yet again on his threat to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, he left 166 men languishing indefinitely without hope even though his own interagency task force has cleared 86 of them for release more than three years ago. In his second term, Obama must use his authority to try or release these men and put an end to one of the most shameful chapters in our nation’s history. 2012 saw the tragic death of Adnan Latif after the Supreme Court refused to hear his case, the ninth such death at Guantánamo. What will 2013 hold?” —Vincent Warren, executive director, Center for Constitutional Rights
"The United States has an operation that can only be described as a medieval torture chamber. It’s in violation of Geneva Convention, and in violation of the US constitution. It violates legal principles such as trial by jury that goes back thousands of years." —anthropologist Dr. Mark Mason, speaking to RT
"January 11 offers a sad reminder of our country's flagrant disregard for justice -- not only for Guantanamo detainees, but also for 300 million Americans subjected to separate systems of law here within the US. Our country loudly claims to be the land of the free, yet conducts pervasive domestic surveillance and imprisons more people than any other country on the planet. Meanwhile, torturers have escaped even mere investigation, and even draw lifetime paychecks on the federal bench! Justice, national security (which suffered due to torture), and the law all require prosecuting US human rights abuses to make sure they never happen again. With the NDAA offering our military the power to detain anyone without proof of crime, every American has a personal stake in this struggle." —Shahid Buttar, executive director, Bill of Rights Defense Committee
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"President Obama promised to close Guantanamo and end the United States’ unlawful detention practices. Instead, he pivoted 180 degrees and embraced the policies initiated by his predecessor. By codifying indefinite detention, continuing military commission trials, failing to ensure accountability for abuses and otherwise ignoring the United States' international legal obligations, the President has further entrenched the deeds he once criticized as immoral and illegal. In his final term, President Obama should keep the promise he made on his second day in office and close Guantanamo for good.” —Frank Jannuzi, head of Amnesty International's Washington office
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— The CCR (@theCCR) January 11, 2013
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) January 11, 2013
— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) January 11, 2013
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) January 11, 2013