Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Human rights advocates

Human rights advocates rallied outside the White House on Saturday to demand the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay Naval Station. (Photo: Courtesy of Amnesty International USA)

Human Rights Advocates Rally at White House to Demand US 'Close Guantánamo and End Torture'

"18 years of injustice. 18 years of impunity. 18 years too long."

Jessica Corbett

Human rights advocates marked the 18th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. military prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba with a rally outside the White House on Saturday to "demand an end to years of torture and human rights violations" and call for the detention camp's immediate closure.

In January 2018, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep the prison open. The move, which revoked an order from Trump's predecessor that called for the prison to be closed, outraged human rights defenders. With the demonstration Saturday, activists criticized not only Trump's decisions related to the prison but also those of former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

"Three United States presidents have overseen Guantánamo during its shameful 18-year existence, yet it continues to remain open as people who have never been granted a trial are still detained and as they age and face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in the prison, dying far away from the families and loved ones they have not seen in years," Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International USA said in a statement.

"It is well past time that Guantánamo close once and for all, and all the men who have long ago been cleared for release are transferred to countries that have agreed to accept them," added Eviatar, director of the Security With Human Rights program.

Organizers of the "Justice Now: Close Guantánamo and End Torture" rally included Amnesty International USA, Witness Against Torture, Defending Rights & Dissent, Center for Constitutional Rights, CAIR, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the World Can't Wait, CodePink, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Close Guantanamo, Tsuru for Solidarity, and Justice for Muslims Collective.

"Guantánamo currently holds 40 individuals: all Muslim men, many of whom were tortured in the camp," Amnesty's statement said. "Several detainees are experiencing health problems as a result of years of detention and instances of torture and other ill-treatment. Some remain detained despite having been cleared for transfer for years. This includes Toffiq al-Bihani, who has been imprisoned for eight years without trial."

Participants in Saturday's demonstration carried signs which declared "Close Guantánamo now!" and "Investigate and prosecute U.S. torture!" Other signs shared the stories of individuals detained at the prison. Some of the activists wore orange jumpsuits and black hoods.

Along with the rally outside the White House Saturday afternoon, organizers held a funeral procession, which ended at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The activists carried nine coffins for nine detainees who have died at the prison.

Organizers of the action aimed to call "attention to the brutality of the prison, including indefinite detention, and for an end to any and all uses of torture," they explained on Facebook. "We cannot let Guantánamo disappear from the public consciousness."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·


Dems Who Opposed Pentagon Cuts Received Nearly 4x More Donations From Weapons Makers

The latest passage of the NDAA "is particularly strong evidence that Pentagon contractors' interests easily take precedence over national security and the public interest for too many members of Congress," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo