15 Years of US Shame

It’s hard to believe that its 15 years since the first men were illegally taken to a new prison camp that was being set up at the US base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Harder still to believe that there are still around 40 detainees held there, despite a promise by President Obama to close it down.

It’s hardly fair to blame Obama for failing to keep that promise, given the opposition he had to face from both Democrats and Republicans; he made an attempt soon after he was first elected but was opposed by both the administration and the Senate and by 2011 he had been largely defeated. But during his time in office the number of men imprisoned there went down from around 245 to 41.

The camp was illegal in almost every respect from the start, flouting international law, the Geneva Conventions and every standard of human rights and common decency; it is hard to think of anything that has more negatively affected the reputation of the USA around the world.

Even its presence on the site in Cuba was in breach of the agreement under which the naval base was established in 1903 on what the USA still regards as sovereign Cuban territory. Though the whole US presence there is also of doubtful legality as the agreement was repudiated after the Cuban revolution as having been made under duress.

But the prison camp remains, and people held there are still being subjected to inhumane treatment, apparently still being tortured routinely – if no longer with the involvement of the UK’s security services. It remains a shameful blot on the USA.

Surprising this year was the absence from the anniversary protest of the human rights organisations that have joined in marking it in at least some previous years. The protest was organised by the Guantanamo Justice Campaign and included the London Guatanamo Campaign who still hold monthly protests outside the US Embassy.

This year the protest had a clown theme with slogans such as ‘Guantanamo is no laughing matter’ and ‘I weep 4 Justice’, and a number of those taking part were dressed and made up as clowns.

15 Years of Guantanamo – No Joke!


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