5,000 'sail' to Cuba to Close Guantánamo
Over 5,000 people from more than 90 countries are participating in an online campaign to persuade the US government to close the country's prison camp at Guantánamo, Cuba. The campaign, organised by Amnesty International, involves a virtual flotilla that will 'sail' to Cuba for the duration of the campaign. The campaign will run until 26 June, International Day for the Protection of Victims of Torture.
The online campaign follows worldwide protests recently held to mark five years of prisoners being detained at the Guantánamo Bay centre. Guantánamo was opened in 2002 during the United States' invasion of Afghanistan to detain and interrogate "enemy combatants". The camp initially housed 20 Afghani detainees but a total of 775 men have been detained at the camp since 2002. 379 have been released, and ten have been charged. No prisoners have gone on trial.
Among the criteria used by the US government to justify the designation of enemy combatant are:
Associations with unnamed and unidentified individuals;
Possession of rifles;
Use of a guest house;
Possession of Casio watches;
Wearing of olive drab clothing.
A 2006 report conducted by counsel for two detainees in Guantánamo found that, of 517 detainees reviewed, fewer than half have been accused of hostile acts in their past. The report also found that 55% of the detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies. Only 8% of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters and, of the remaining detainees, 40% have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban. 7% of the detainees surveyed were captured by US or coalition forces.
Commenting on the most recent campaign, Denise Searle, Senior Director of Communications at Amnesty International said “the protests which took place less than a fortnight ago showed that people across the world want to see Guantánamo closed. We are now taking that struggle from the streets to cyber space.”
“This campaign is also a response to the US government's continuous disregard of international outrage at Guantánamo detentions and to Amnesty Internatonal's numerous unanswered requests to visit the detainees who are held there virtually incommunicado.”