Jonathan Bartley

Worldwide protests on Guantanamo's fifth anniversary

By Jonathan Bartley
January 11, 2007

Christians will be amongst protestors who will protest around the world today against the detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The actions mark the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

Organised by Amnesty International, the protests will be held outside the US embassy in 20 countries.

Protesters wearing orange boiler-suits, blindfolds, goggles and face-masks are expected to take part in the demonstration in London.

The human rights group says that 400 detainees are still being held at the base, many without charge, and the protests will be asking the US government to give these detainees "a fair trial".

Christians have been active in campaigning in the past for prisoners held in the facility. Last year a group of twenty-four U.S. Christians, part of the group Witness Against Torture, marched over 60 miles to the Naval Base in an attempt to practice the Christian act of prisoner visitation. They later themselves faced imprisonment.

Many Bishops have also spoken out against Guantanamo Bay. In December, Bishop Richard Lewis said; “I think Guantanamo Bay is an appalling symbol of everything that has gone wrong with the world.

“We have the strongest nation in the world apparently showing little regard for human rights, employing extraordinary rendition, and holding people without trial in Guantanamo.”

The UK government has already said it would prefer it if the camp was closed.

"No individual can be placed outside the protection of the rule of law, and no government can hold itself above the rule of law. The US government must end this travesty of justice," said Amnesty International's secretary general Irene Khan.

"Equally, it is not enough for world leaders to express concern about Guantanamo and carry on business as usual with the USA. The international community must actively press the USA to close Guantanamo and restore respect for international law."

As part of the London protests, a young boy will hand-deliver a letter to Downing Street asking prime minister Tony Blair why his father is being held at the detention camp.

In the letter, Anas al-Banna writes: "Why is my dad in prison? Why is he far away in that place called Guantanamo Bay? I miss my dad so much. I have not seen my dad for three years. I know my dad has not done anything because he is a good man."

His father, Jamil, was detained while on a trip to Gambia in 2002. According to reports, he was accused of having a suspicious device in his luggage. He is one of eight British residents in the detention camp and is yet to be charged.

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