Thursday, July 30, 2015

A few words from the "Close Guantanamo Team"

Prisoner Reviews - and 800 Days of the Gitmo Clock

Dear friends and supporters,

We're sorry to report that progress towards the closure of Guantánamo remains painfully slow. Of the 116 men still held at the prison, 52 have been approved for release, but are still held because of a lack of urgency of the part of the administration, and, in many cases, because third countries must be found that will offer them new homes. Most of the 52 are Yemenis, and the entire U.S. establishment is unwilling to repatriate Yemenis because of the security situation in their homeland.

However, we have been hearing since April that a Mauritanian and a Moroccan could be released soon, and, in addition, we remain appalled that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, has not been freed despite calls for his release from Prime Minister David Cameron, from the government and the House of Commons, which supported a motion calling for his release in March, from MPs in the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, who visited Washington D.C. in May, and from the many prominent figures who have stood with the giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer that is at the heart of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, launched by "Close Guantánamo" co-founder Andy Worthington, with activist Joanne MacInnes, last November.

One way out of Guantánamo is through Periodic Review Boards, established in 2013 to review the cases of all the prisoners not facing trials, and not already approved for release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established in 2009 to review all the prisoners' cases. 17 PRBs have now taken place, with ten men approved for release, and two of those ten have subsequently been freed. Last week, Andy wrote about the 16th prisoners to face a PRB, Salman Rabei'i, a Yemeni, in an article entitled, "16th Guantánamo Prisoner Seeks Release Via Periodic Review Board."

This week the last Kuwaiti in Guantánamo, Fayiz al-Kandari, had a second PRB after the board approved his ongoing imprisonment last year. Andy wrote about that decision here, and for a report on Fayiz's second PRB we recommend Jenifer Fenton's article for Al-Jazeera, "Last Kuwaiti in Guantanamo seeks to return home."

Further PRBs will be taking place in August, as can be seen on the PRB website.

800 days of the Gitmo Clock

Tomorrow, July 31, also marks 800 days since President Obama's promise to resume releasing prisoners from Guantánamo, after a three-year period in which releases had almost ground to a halt because of Congressional obstruction, and the president's unwillingness to expend political capital overcoming those obstacles. The spur for the promise was widespread shock at a prison-wide hunger strike, launched by men who, rightly, feared that they would never be released or granted anything resembling justice, and the promise was made in a major speech on national security in the National Archives on May 23, 2013.

In the summer of 2013, "Close Guantánamo" launched the Gitmo Clock to mark the time since that promise, and the number of prisoners released. We are pleased to note the 50 men released since that promise, but, as mentioned above, the continuing imprisonment of 52 others is a disgrace.

Please visit, like, share and tweet the Gitmo Clock if, like us, you want to see action soon to release the 52 men who, for the most part, have been awaiting release since 2009. It is bad enough that Guantánamo is still open, without men being held who were told six years ago that the U.S. no longer wanted to hold them.

With thanks, as ever, for your support.

The "Close Guantánamo" team

P.S. Please, if you will, also ask your friends and family to join us -- just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email. Please also note that we can be found on Twitter here and on Facebook here.


Apparently Obama does not want it.... while declaring the war over on one side of his mouth on the other side of his mouth he declares the war is not over and therefore the prisoners of war cannot be released.
This is the continued saga of a president who says one thing in press releases and quite another in litigation.
Today Judge Lamberth (you might recall him from the notorious statement he made several years ago where he declared publicly that he did not think he could release any of the Guantanamo detainees because hell- "How confident can I be that if I make the wrong choice that he won't be the one that blows up the Washington Monument or the Capitol?"  I filed a motion to recuse Judge Lamberth from hearing my clients case on that basis...and he did in fact recuse himself.) decided that the president really did not mean it when he said the war was over and therefore the detainees cannot be released on the basis that the war is over. In other words.... Obama lied when he said the war was over.
I will link to the opinion soon....