Protestors rail against 11 years of Guantanamo prison
Relatives of detainees, human rights activists and international and local organizations gathered in front of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi’s house on Monday to condemn 11 years of ongoing operation of the U.S. owned detention facility, Guantanamo Bay.
Although rights groups say international law prevents the existence of prisons like Guantanamo, 86 Yemenis are currently detained there, according to the HOOD Organization for Defending Human Rights and Freedoms. Among the prisoners are 58 detainees who have been acquitted but have not been sent back to Yemen, HOOD said.
The protesters delivered a letter to President Hadi, calling on him to make the return of Yemeni detainees a top government priority.
They also demanded the president set aside money in the budget to fund a ministerial committee designated to follow this issue.
The Yemeni government established a committee with representatives from the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Human Rights, the National Security Bureau, the Hood Organization and the relatives of the abducted people to follow the issue, said Mohammed Al-Ahmadi, the legal coordinator for Al-Karama Organization in Yemen.
Abdulrahman Barman, a lawyer for HOOD, said this protest is held annually on the anniversary of the establishment of the prison.
“President Hadi visited the U.S. last year and discussed this issue with American officials. We want him to disclose the outcomes of this meeting,” Barman said.
He says the 58 Yemenis acquitted of ties to Al-Qaeda, have not been sent back to Yemen because the Yemeni government has demanded huge sums to rehabilitate them.
At the protest, relatives of detainees told tales of loved ones who are unjustly imprisoned.
Bassam Al-Marwala, the brother of a Yemeni prisoner in Guantanamo named Basheer, told the Yemen Times that his brother went to Pakistan to do humanitarian work in 2001, but was apprehended and sent to Guantanamo and has been there ever since.
He said his brother has been acquitted with the 57 others but is yet to be released to Yemen.
Four years ago, President Barack Obama pledged to close down Guantanamo, but the controversial facility remains open with no immediate plans to relocate prisoners.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the human rights organization Amnesty International called on the European Union to put pressure on the U.S. to close the detention center.
The facility is located in the Gulf of Guantanamo, to the east of Cuba. The United States began renting the land from Cuba in 1903 for $2000 and established an American naval base. They began using it on Jan. 11, 2002 as a detention center.