Statement from formerly detained Omar Deghayes on 9th Anniversary of the prison at Guantanamo

Omar Deghayes is a man who was wrongly detained and tortured at Bagram and Guantanamo for 6 years, and who is now back home in England. Along with other formerly detained men, Omar continues to advocate for the just closure of the prison at Guantanamo. He offered these words for us to read at a rally in front of the White House on January 11, 2011, the grim anniversary marking the beginning of the 10th year of arbitrary and indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay:

Two years ago, President Barak Obama pledged to bring an end to the anomaly that is Guantanamo within a year, and to thereby restore America’s moral standing in the world. Yet today, on January 11, 2011, we are marking the beginning of the tenth year since the first prisoners were transferred to Camp X Ray – and Guantanamo remains open, Obama’s promise in ruins.

This past December 19th just marked three years to the day that I tasted freedom again and was released from Guantanamo to the warm embrace of my family and the community who fought so hard for my freedom. But not a day has passed since in which my thoughts and prayers have not remained with the 173 men who continue to languish in Guantanamo, detained without trial, most of them not facing any charge, and entering their tenth year of being separated from their loved ones. More than 90 of these men have actually been cleared for release long ago.

One of these men who continues to be unjustly detained is Shaker Aamer, the last British resident still detained at Guantánamo who has yet to come home to the UK. Today we remember Shaker’s wife and four children – all of whom are British nationals, the youngest of whom has never seen his father. Shaker’s children are being forced to endure yet another year of suffering, not knowing if or when their beloved father will return.  Justice has been delayed yet another year for Shaker and the other 173 men detained in Cuba; and justice delayed is justice denied. If this was not enough, President Obama’s intention to sign an executive order formalising the indefinite detention of the prisoners in Guantanamo now leaves us with the very real and disturbing prospect that, if we collectively fail to act and stand up, many of the men who continue to be held in Guantanamo will be left to rot there indefinitely. It is therefore vital that the American people continue in their efforts; and I cannot thank you enough for your tremendous courage and resilience in keeping up the fight for the prisoners in Guantanamo and ensuring that these men are not forgotten.

As we enter the tenth year of this lawlessness, I and the former prisoners who, with me, formed the Guantanamo Justice Centre in 2009, are united with one voice in calling upon President Obama to fulfill his promise and bring a swift end to the shameful stain on the United States that is Guantanamo. We call on the Obama administration to free the remaining prisoners from what Adnan Abdul Latif, one Yemeni prisoner, recently called a “piece of hell that kills everything, the spirit, the body and kicks away all the symptoms of health from them,” and to resettle those wrongly detained where they can rebuild their lives in safety and in peace.

In solidarity,

Omar Deghayes

Legal Director, Guantanamo Justice Centre, London, UK.

Last modified 

January 9, 2011