January 21, 2011, New York – Upon the anniversary of President Obama’s broken promise to close Guantánamo, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) reported that a man detained at the prison, who prefers to remain anonymous, told his attorney during an unclassified call of a spontaneous peaceful protest that has swept through Camp 6, where most of the remaining detainees are currently being held. He described signs the men have posted demanding justice and humane treatment. The protest began because the government has been transferring – sometimes by force – detainees from the communal facility that had previously held most of the men, Camp 4, to the solitary-celled, Supermax-style facility of Camp 6. The detained man said the protest was inspired by news of the recent revolution in Tunisia. The detainees object to the move because of worse conditions in Camp 6, and because of their accurate perception that the move is a signal that the Obama administration has no plans to send them home anytime soon. See below for more information on the protest, language from the protest signs and excerpts from the unclassified attorney call with the detained man who reported the protest. CCR also released the following statement:
In the last presidential election, both candidates campaigned on a promise to close Guantánamo – an international symbol of injustice that both men acknowledged was damaging U.S. foreign policy and national security interests. Today, on the eve of the first anniversary of President Obama’s failed deadline to close Guantánamo, it is clear that all three branches of government have effectively abandoned that goal.
The President continues to make hollow assertions that closing Guantánamo is the right thing to do and will make the U.S. safer. Yet, he has shown no willingness to use political capital to pursue that goal against strident opposition from demagogues in Congress and the media. In the absence of presidential leadership, both parties in Congress continue to block transfers out of Guantánamo, even for men who have successfully challenged the legality of their detention or who have been cleared for release by the administration’s own thorough review process. With the Supreme Court now largely removed from the picture, thanks to the likely recusal of Justice Elena Kagan from cases involving detainee affairs because of her previous role as Solicitor General, the Court of Appeals for D.C. – the most deferential in the country to executive claims of authority – has raised the burden on detained men seeking relief through the courts to levels even higher than the government has requested.
As the men detained at Guantánamo enter their tenth year of imprisonment without charge, we call on President Obama to show political and moral leadership and publically recommit to rapidly closing Guantánamo. All the remaining men must be charged and fairly tried or released. The blanket ban on repatriations to Yemen must be lifted, and the men who cannot return to their home countries for fear of torture and persecution must be safely resettled. President Obama must also make good on his promise to seek repeal of the recently passed congressional restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of Guantánamo.
- “We are human beings, exactly like you. We have wives, children, fathers and mothers. Let us go to them.”
- “You cannot detain us because of what other people are doing outside. Release us.”
- “Give us our rights inside the camp. If you don’t want to give us our rights, get us out of here.”
- “Until when are we going to stay here?”
- “Close this camp of discrimination and racism.”
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last nine years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with an individual transferred from CIA “ghost detention” to Guantanamo. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 30 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.