12 years of Guantanamo Bay

A modest presence at Trafalgar Square marks twelve years since the opening of the merciless Guantanamo Bay

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It has been 12 horrid years since Guantanamo Bay, a high security jailhouse in Cuba, opened. Since 2002 it has been the hellhole for 158 men who have been detained and subjected to inhumane treatment.  84 inmates have been cleared for release and face no charges or no trial, yet are still there. 46 prisoners have been approved for indefinite detention without trail. Seven have died in suspicious circumstances. For the last year a hunger strike is still ongoing.  Many prisoners see their only way out is to leave in a coffin.

"They now punish us by force-feeding and they punish you with hyperthermia, all because we called for justice.  Yet justice will be restored. Justice must be restored”

A small presence at Trafalgar Square on Saturday 11th January 2014 marked the 12th anniversary. One speaker who attended the demonstration was a former SAS soldier called Ben Griffin who famously spoke out against the Iraq war, who refused to return to Iraq and left the Army, citing not only the "illegal" tactics of United States troops and the policies of coalition forces but also that the invasion itself was contrary to international law.  Ben is now a coordinator of Veterans For Peace UK, he said: “In the operations I was involved in Iraq, I estimated that only about 10% of the people that were picked up and put into custody were guilty of anything or involved in the insurgency.  I later found out through an American veteran called Joshua Casteel, an interrogator in Abu Ghraib, that they assessed less than five per cent of the people we picked up were involved in the insurgency, and that those numbers count in all those theatres in all these prisons camps: so of all the people in Guantanamo Bay, the people in Bagram, people in Special Forces bases, only are a tiny percentage of them were involved in what we call terrorist and insurgent activity.”

12 years of Guantanamo Bay
Former SAS soldier Ben Griffin speaking at Trafalgar Square

Shaker Aamer is one Guantanamo prisoner, whose dreams of doing charity work in Afghanistan turned into a living nightmare.  Shaker managed to get his words read out by a human rights lawyer at the demo in Trafalgar Square on SaturdayShaker has served 12 years at Guantanamo: It will soon be 12 years that I have been at Guantanamo.  I write on the day my youngest child was born, the 14th February 2002, even then I already spent two months in US captivity undergoing terrible mistreatment these are 12 years that are forever lost. I am on hunger strike once more.  The US military wants to repress the truth about Guantanamo, but the truth will always come out. The cells are made of steel and the metal chills the bones as if you are trying to sleep in a refrigerator. They now punish us by force-feeding and they punish you with hyperthermia, all because we called for justice.  Yet justice will be restored. Justice must be restored”.

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