End 20 Years Of Injustice

For Independence Day, Please Join Us in Telling Donald Trump to Close Guantánamo

Some of the dozens of Close Guantánamo supporters who have urged Donald Trump to close the prison, and not to keep it open as he has threatened to do.

By Andy Worthington, July 2, 2017

Please send us a photo of yourself with a poster urging Donald Trump to close Guantánamo!

With just one day to go until the United States celebrates the 241st anniversary of its freedom from the yoke of British tyranny, all is not well in the Land of the Free. With Donald Trump in the White House, the U.S.’s reputation abroad is floundering. Trump seems to govern by tweet and to have no idea of what the position of president entails, and far from "draining the swamp" as he promised, cleaning up politics and standing up for ordinary Americans, he has, predictably, embarked on a corporate-pleasing, right-wing agenda, slashing healthcare for poorer Americans, being gung-ho for war, showing contempt for the environment and love for energy companies, and hammering away at creating a travel ban for Muslims that is disgracefully racist and unacceptably wide-reaching and imprecise in its scope.

On Guantánamo, he has, to date, done very little despite threatening to send new prisoners there and to reintroduce torture — both ambitions that wiser heads counselled him to drop. However, inaction does absolutely nothing to deal with the ongoing injustice of Guantánamo, something that Trump cares nothing about, but that continues to trouble those of us who care about justice and the rule of law.

In a law-abiding world, there are only two ways to deprive someone of their liberty — as a criminal, put forward for a trial without excessive delay, or as a combatant seized in wartime, who can be held off the battlefield, unmolested, until the end of hostilities, under the terms of the Geneva Conventions. The men at Guantánamo are neither. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration arbitrarily rounded up hundreds of men, and claimed that they had no rights whatsoever.

In the 15 years since, there have been legal challenges, but these have, in the end, been blocked by shamefully politicized judges, and the release of prisoners remains a political issue — with questions regarding the release of Guantánamo prisoners being in the president’s hands, or in the hands of lawmakers who have also intervened to impose their opinions and prejudices on the decision-making process. As a result, justice remains absent for those at Guantánamo.

Just 41 men are still held, but five of those were approved for release under Barack Obama, and yet are still held at the whim of Donald Trump, as I have just discussed in an article for Al-Jazeera. Eleven others are facing, or have faced trials, and yet those trials — in military commissions at Guantánamo — are such a poor imitation of justice that most of them are still engaged in seemingly interminable pre-trial wrangling nearly eight years after they were first charged, under Obama, and over a decade since they were first charged under George W. Bush.

The other 25 men are eligible for a review process that is ongoing — the Periodic Review Boards— but this is an internationally aberrant novelty in and of itself — a parole-type process for men who have never been charged or tried — and, in any case, any decision to release them only ends up back in the president’s hands, as, again, a purely political decision.

For Independence Day, please help us to continue to flag up how unjust this whole situation is, and how shameful it should be for Americans, every day that this wretched prison remains open. Please print off a poster, take a photo with it, and send it to us. We’ll post the photos on the page on our website dedicated to photos of supporters asking Donald Trump to close Guantánamo once and for all, and we’ll also share them on social media.