Protest Demanding Shutdown of U.S. Guantanamo Prison Marks 14 Years Since Camp Opened

Posted Jan. 13, 2016

MP3 Interview with Jeremy Varon, associate professor of History at New School University and a spokesperson with Witness Against Torture, conducted by Scott Harris

guantanamo

A protest at the White House on Jan. 11, marked the 14th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay Cuba – and demanded its closure. A broad coalition of human rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Code Pink and Witness Against Torture, called on President Obama to expedite the transfer of the remaining 103 prisoners held at the facility, some of them imprisoned without charge or trial since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Many of the same activists at the recent White House protest have participated in similar actions calling for the shutdown of Guantanamo after President Obama failed to make good on his pledge to close the prison within one year of taking office in January 2009. The Obama administration maintains that Republicans in Congress have blocked his initiatives to close Guantanamo, but many activists maintain that Obama could have done more. In recent interviews, White House chief of Staff Denis McDonough says that the president is determined to close the prison before his presidency ends in January 2017.

Activists demanding the closure of Guantanamo decry the treatment of prisoners held there, described by some human rights groups as torture, involving such methods as force-feeding and sleep deprivation. Since it opened in January 2002, nine prisoners have died at the facility. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke Jeremy Varon, an associate professor of history at New School University and a spokesperson with the group Witness Against Torture who talks the ongoing human rights violations at Guantanamo and the goals of the protest.

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