Please also read our previous article before the vote, and our recent articles about what the end of the Afghan war will mean for Guantánamo, and about developments including the start of periodic reviews for 71 prisoners who have not been cleared for release. Please also read about how Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, is trying to get an independent doctor to visit him at Guantánamo, and a declaration by Ramzi Kassem, one of his lawyers.
We also recommend the latest op-eds by Tom Wilner and Andy Worthington about how President Obama has the power to close Guantánamo now, and how continued inaction is a disgrace, and our recent article about the release of two prisoners, prompted by widespread outrage at the hunger strike that began in February. Also, please look at our updated prisoner list, incorporating the decisions about whether the men should be freed, tried or held indefinitely. These decisions were made by the Guantánamo Review Task Force in 2010, but were only made public in June 2013, as discussed in our article, "The Guantánamo Review Task Force's Decisions on Who to Release, Who to Try and Who to Hold Indefinitely Are Finally Released."
The prison at Guantánamo Bay is an abominable experiment in indefinite detention, which poisons America's claim to be a nation that believes in justice, and the detention of 84 prisoners cleared for release, who are held because it is politically inconvenient to release them, is a disgrace. Please read our latest exclusive report about the cleared prisoners still in Guantánamo, our latest world exclusive from Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, our first report about the hunger strike, and our follow-ups here and also here and here and here, on the recent violent raid by the guard force. Please also read about Sen. Feinstein's call to free the 84 cleared prisoners, including the Yemenis, Tom Wilner's op-ed in the Washington Post, and Sen. Carl Levin's call for renewed action to close Guantánamo.
Also, please read our response to President Obama's major speech on national security issues on May 23, in which he finally made three significant promises regarding the prison -- a promise to appoint new envoys to deal with the release of prisoners, a promise to drop his ban on releasing cleared Yemenis, and a promise to resume the release of other cleared prisoners.
Please also read our response to the news that, after an unacceptable delay of nearly two and a half years, reviews are being set up to examine whether 71 prisoners who have not been cleared for release should continue to be regarded as a threat. This, incidentally, is a process towards which we would like to contribute, as we are able to provide an objective analysis of the supposed evidence, exposing its many shortcomings.
We are a group of lawyers, journalists, retired military personnel and concerned citizens seeking to close the "war on terror" prison at Guantánamo Bay, where 164 men are still held, even though 84 of them have been cleared for release. Last June, we published an exclusive report identifying 40 prisoners cleared for release up to eight years ago who are still held, and last October we produced a major report telling the stories of 55 of the cleared prisoners whose names were included on a list released by the Justice Department in a court case in September.
This remains pressing, as we are in the 12th year of Guantánamo's existence, having marked the 11th anniversary of its opening with a series of events in Washington D.C.. We have already marked the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and, at the same time, the ninth death at Guantánamo -- of Adnan Latif, a Yemeni who should have been freed six years ago, on the first of three occasions when he was cleared for release -- under George W. Bush, under Barack Obama, and in a U.S. court. In July 2013, we revisited Adnan's story for an exclusive article questioning the official report of his death, based on unclassified notes of a meeting at Guantánamo between Abdelhadi Faraj, a Syrian who knew Adnan, and his attorney Ramzi Kassem.
As President Obama's second and final term in office becomes entrenched, his legacy is being written, and he needs to make good the promise to close Guantánamo that he made over four and a half years ago, on his second day in office in January 2009.
As part of our mission here at "Close Guantánamo," we have started a project to tell the stories of the prisoners still held at Guantánamo, drawing partly on the accounts of their attorneys. We began with the story of Abdul Razak Qadir, one of five innocent Uighur prisoners (Muslims from China's Xinjiang province), and followed that with the story of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, long cleared for release, whose continued detention is thoroughly unacceptable, and the stories of Fawzi Al-Odah and Fayiz Al-Kandari, the last two Kuwaitis in Guantánamo.
We then told three Afghan stories -- those of Shawali Khan, sold to U.S. forces ten years ago, Abdul Ghani, a pomegranate farmer and scrap metal merchant whose ongoing detention is equally inexplicable, and Obaidullah, whose lawyers recently sent an investigator to Afghanistan to disprove the government's false narrative about their client.
We also published a world exclusive article last April, featuring testimony from Guantánamo by Shaker Aamer, which was provided to Andy Worthington by one of Shaker's lawyers, Ramzi Kassem, and his legal team at the City University of New York (CUNY). In October Shaker again requested that unclassified notes of a meeting with Ramzi were made available to Andy, which were published as an article entitled, "A Demand for 'Freedom and Justice' from Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo."
In other articles, we told the story of Djamel Ameziane, one of the last Algerians in Guantánamo, whose release was demanded last year by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and in another article we celebrated the release of two prisoners from Guantánamo for the first time since January 2011 -- two Uighurs, including Abdul Razak Qadir, who was the first prisoner to be profiled here.
Last May we applauded the Washington Post for calling for the last three Uighurs -- still homeless, three years and seven months after a judge ordered their release -- to be freed in the U.S., and called for concerned U.S. citizens to follow the examples of Amherst and Leverett in Massachusetts, and Berkeley in California by asking their communities to pass resolutions calling for cleared prisoners who cannot be safely repatriated to be offered a new life in their towns.
We also profiled two more Algerians in need of new homes, both of whom were cleared for release over five years ago -- Ahmed Belbacha, included in the campaigns mentioned above, and Nabil Hadjarab, who had been trying, unsuccessfully, to be taken in by France, where he spent much of his life before his ten long years in Guantánamo. Nabil was one of two prisoners released in August 2013, although he was sent back to Algeria, and not to France.
Last fall, we profiled Omar Khadr on his release from Guantánamo, and, on the 11th anniversary of the opening of the prison, featured a message from the former prisoner Omar Deghayes. Our most recent prisoner profile is of Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz, a Mauritanian, by his legal team in Denver, Colorado.
Further stories will be forthcoming, but in the meantime we would like to encourage our supporters in the U.S. and around the world to sign a petition on the influential Care 2 Petition Site calling for the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. This petition is aiming to secure 10,000 signatures, and will be delivered to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the British foreign secretary William Hague.
We also remain concerned to remind visitors to this site that January 11, 2013 marked the 11th anniversary of the opening of the Bush administration's "war on terror" prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
On his second day in office in January 2009, President Obama pledged to close Guantánamo within a year. Yet it remains open, undermining America's values and national security.
Join us now to help end this injustice and restore the rule of law. We call on President Obama to honor the principled and pragmatic commitment he made to close Guantánamo. Your voice matters.
Thank you for your commitment and support. Please see our mission statement for a more detailed analysis of why Guantánamo must be closed, and to see the list of prominent individuals and organizations who have signed it.