Ex-inmates join protestors in Kabul to demand Gitmo closure
KABUL (Pajhwok): Protestors in central capital Kabul on Saturday asked the United States government to close down notorious Guantanamo Bay prison and treat its inmates in accordance with international conventions on human rights.
The US established the facility 14 years ago after the 9/11 attacks in Cuba and in 2009, President Obama signed an executive order to close the prison in one year.
In his final State of the Union address, Obama said he would “keep working to shut down the prison, calling it expensive, unnecessary and only serving as a recruitment brochure for enemies.
But the facility in Cuba where the US houses suspects captured during its "war on terror" remains open. Many of those detained since the facility's opening 14 years ago have never been charged or tried, and a number remained detained despite being cleared for release.
Three former Gitmo detainees were among dozens of people who staged a protest demonstration in front of the US Embassy in Kabul on Saturday, calling for the detention camp to be closed.
They chanted “death to America,” “Guantanamo is a black spot on humanity face,” death to dramas of democracy” and “close Guantanamo prison as soon as possible.” Few of the protestors had worn orange uniforms like Guantanamo inmates with their hands tied behind their back.
One of the rally participants, Sharifullah Sherzada, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, said he had no connections with the Taliban, but he spent seven years in the detention centre in Cuba.
“When the Americans first came to Afghanistan, they bought many persons including me and shifted us to Guantanamo where barbarism was ongoing. Prisoners would be beaten up, tortured and bitten by dogs and other tactics which I cannot even say in public.”
The former prisoner said he endured the torture for seven years and then he was told that he had been found innocent. He said still he could not understand why he was detained and why released.
A 60-year-old protestor, Omar Khan, said his son was detained nine years ago and remained in Guantanamo prison for an unknown crime. He said many “dark rooms” the US-prison had been filled with innocent people. “Our demand is that the prison should be closed.”
The protestors issued a resolution letter titled “close Guantanamo,” in which they urged the US government to treat Guantanamo inmates in line with international conventions on human rights.
It also asked the US government to allow the prisoners to have access to defence lawyers and courts.
The protestors said they wanted all overt and covert US-run prisons including Bagram should be closed and their inmates treated in line with human rights conventions.
They said all innocent prisoners should be compensated and crimes committed against them by US officials should be registered and produced before the International Criminal Court.
A member of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Abdul Rahman Hotak, told the protestors that “every prison which is against the law and human rights should be closed and Guantanamo is one such prison where everyone who is held captive is against all international laws.”
Hotak said he himself had spent three years in Guantanamo Bay prison. “I have not been told as yet why I was detained. Like me many innocent are held there. The prison should be closed and the prisoners extradited to their respective countries.”
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