By Andy Worthington, April 24, 2016
Today, the Close Guantánamo campaign has relaunched the Gitmo Clock, which we first set up in the summer of 2013 to count the number of days since President Obama's May 2013 promise to resume releasing prisoners from the prison at Guantánamo Bay (after several years of inaction, prompted by Congressional obstruction), and also to count the number of prisoners released. See this RT article for a screenshot of the first version of the clock.
This new version, just launched today, counts down how many days President Obama has left until he leaves office, to fulfill the promise to close Guantánamo that he made on his second day as president back in January 2009.
Please visit the Gitmo Clock, like it, share it and retweet it if you want to see Guantánamo closed.
The Close Guantánamo campaign was set up on January 11, 2012, the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison, by the journalist and campaigner Andy Worthington and the attorney Tom Wilner, who represented the Guantánamo prisoners in their Supreme Court cases in 2004 and 2008, when they successfully sought habeas corpus rights.
In January this year, Andy and Tom set up a new initiative, the Countdown to Close Guantánamo, which Andy launched on Democracy Now! with the music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd), and the relaunched Gitmo Clock is part of this initiative. For the Countdown, celebrities (including the actors David Morrissey and Juliet Stevenson and the musician and producer Brian Eno), politicians, former prisoners and concerned members of the public across the U.S. and worldwide have been taking photos of themselves with signs telling President Obama how many days he has left to close the prison before he leaves office.
The next milestone is 250 days to go (on May 14), and in the meantime the Gitmo Clock is counting down from today, with just 270 days left for President Obama to fulfill his promise. To take part in the Countdown to Close Guantánamo, take a photo with a poster and email it it to us for May 14.
80 prisoners are still held at Guantánamo, and 26 of those men have been approved for release -- 15 since 2010, when President Obama's high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force decided whether the prisoners held when Obama took office should be released or prosecuted, or whether they should continue to be held without charge or trial, and eleven since January 2014, as a result of the ongoing deliberations of Periodic Review Boards, established to review the cases of all the men not already approved for release or facing trials.
The administration has promised to release everyone approved for release by summer, and to ensure that all the Periodic Review Boards are completed before the end of Obama's presidency, but it is still by no means clear whether or not the president will manage to persuade Congress to back his plan to move the remaining prisoners to the U.S. mainland, so that Guantánamo can finally be closed. We know that many campaigners, activists and lawyers are troubled by the prospect of indefinite detention being moved to the U.S. mainland, rather than being shut down once and for all, but as we have always maintained, we believe that, on the mainland, they will have new opportunities to challenge the basis of their detention that have been denied them at Guantánamo for too many years.
Note: Thanks to Justin Norman for designing the Gitmo Clock.