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Protesters demand closure of Guantanamo

- January 12, 2013 - Updated 410 PKT - From Web Edition

WASHINGTON: About 200 protesters in the US capital marked the 11th anniversary Friday of the arrival of inmates at the US-run detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, demanding its immediate closure.


The demonstrators marched from the Supreme Court to Congress to the White House in Washington, chanting "Close Guantanamo now!" and "Guantanamo has to go!"


President Barack Obama vowed when he was first elected in 2008 that he would close the prison camp.


But he was thwarted by US lawmakers who passed legislation banning the military from transferring prisoners to the United States for trial or sending them abroad. The United States also had difficulty finding countries willing to take the inmates.


Obama, who appears to have abandoned his plans to shutter the prison, last week reauthorized the law imposing the ban -- to the frustration of rights activists who say holding inmates there indefinitely is a violation of their human rights.


"As we approach the inauguration, we're tired of hearing excuses, solutions must be found," Zeke Johnson, of Amnesty International USA, said at the demonstration.


"It's a human rights issue, not a political issue," he said of the inmates who face no prospects that their indefinite incarceration will come to an end any time soon.


"Try them or release them," he said, saying the inmates' continued incarceration is a blight on Obama's legacy.


"Who is President Obama going to be, will he restore the rule of law... or is he going to be hypocritical in human rights?" the activist added.


The high-security facility once held nearly 700 detainees, but now houses just 166, of whom 55 are considered safe to be released by the US military, but have nowhere to go. (AFP)

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