The London Guantánamo Campaign held a demonstration on the 8th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay, outside the US Embassy in London. A vigil by protesters in orange jumpsuits and black hoods was followed by an hour of speeches calling for the closing of the camp without further delay and justice for all those still detained. London, UK. 11/01/2010
The London Guantánamo Campaign held a demonstration on the eighth anniversary of Guantánamo Bay, Monday 11 January 2010, outside the US Embassy in London. A vigil by protesters in orange jumpsuits and black hoods was followed by an hour of speeches calling for the closing down of the camp without further delay and justice for all those still detained there.
Although all British subjects have now been released, there are still two men with British connections held there. Shaker Aamer is a British resident, with a British family living in Battersea, London - his four British children include a seven-year-old son he has never met. The campaign also urges the UK government to press for the release of Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Belbacha, who was formerly living in Bournemouth, on humanitarian grounds.
Although Obama pledged to close down the camp by Jan 22, 2010, this deadline will not be met. US actions over the detainees have been clearly in breach of international law since the start, and this and illegal prisons in other countries which the USA has made use of have clearly damaged America's reputation as well as radicalising many around the world to acts of terrorism.
Just fewer than 200 prisoners are now still held at Guantánamo Bay. Of these around 50 have already been cleared for release but no suitable country has yet been found for them to go. There may be sufficient evidence to try around 25 on the US mainland, although since much of this evidence was obtained using torture it is probably impossible for any to be convicted in a fair trial.
It is not clear why the remaining 120 or so are still being held. One of the speakers, journalist Andy Worthington, suggested that in Shaker Aamer's case it may well simply be that his release would be too embarrassing for the US government because of his extensive knowledge about what has gone on at Guantánamo.
As well as pressing for the return of the two British residents from their illegal detention, the UK government, along with other European governments was also urged to give a home to some of the other detainees who are unable to return to their home countries.
Nicki Jameson of Fight Racism Fight Imperialism reminded us that the whole US presence at Guantánamo Bay is illegal, the US occupation of the area coming from the 1903 Cuban-American Treaty, which was in violation of international law as it was obtained by threat of force.
Other speakers shown in the pictures include Green MEP for London Jean Lambert who has also submitted a parliamentary written question asking the European Commission to clarify what steps have been taken by Member States to assist in the closure of Guantánamo by agreeing to receive former detainees, Chloe Davies of Reprieve, a legal charity which fights for human rights for prisoners; already over 50 of their clients have been released from Guantánamo, but they continue to represent over 30 still there, Lindsey German of Stop the War, Joy Hurcombe of Brighton Against Guantánamo and John Clossick of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign.