Amnesty marks sixth anninversary of Guantánamo Bay with a protest in Belfast: MLAs to join protest

Amnesty International is marking the sixth anniversary of US detentions at Guantánamo Bay (11 January) with protests in Belfast and around the world as part of its campaign to close the US-run prison camp. 1000 parliamentarians from across the world, including 33 from the Northern Ireland Assembly, have signed a petition calling on the US to shut the prison camp and to stop secret detention; this petition is to be presented to all members on the US congress on the Friday 11th January.

At 12.20pm on Friday 11 January in Writers Square, Belfast, dozens of Amnesty activists, all dressed as Guantánamo inmates in orange boiler suits and face masks, together with ‘US camp guards’ who will shout orders to the ‘detainees’ and force them to assume stress positions used at Guantánamo Bay.

Mr John McCallister, MLA for South Down, who signed the petition, said:

"Guantanamo Bay and secret detentions are a disgrace. In the face of terrorism, we must ensure that we stand squarely behind the rule of law."

Alex Attwood, MLA for West Belfast who also signed the petition added:

" Guantanamo Bay and the White House's policy of detention without trial has damaged America's reputation throughout the world. the answer to terror is not internment or torture. Guantanamo's closure is long over due."

Patrick Corrigan Northern Ireland Programme Director said:

“It’s time for Guantánamo Bay to close. After six long years these totally illegal detentions must come to an end.

“Guantánamo Bay has completely failed to make the world a safer place and instead has had a disastrous effect on respect for human rights around the globe. In the last six years it has become a symbol for human rights abuses in the ‘war on terror’.

“Of course, governments need to combat terrorism, but this must be done using proper courts and proper justice. Guantánamo’s detainees should be given a fair trial or released to a safe country.

Amnesty International is warning that illegal practices adopted by the US government in its ‘war on terror’ - at Guantánamo and with CIA secret detentions - have led to a dangerous setting aside of fundamental human rights in the name of national security.

The organisation cites a corrosive effect on the rule of law and respect for human rights in Afghanistan, Pakistan, East Africa and Europe. In Pakistan, for example, the recent reappearance of people previously considered ‘disappeared’ has highlighted this trend.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International knows of at least 38 people believed to have been held in secret detention by the CIA whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown. The human rights organisation is pointing out that the CIA’s rendition and detention programme could not have operated without the cooperation of other governments, and that such governments have also been complicit in Guantánamo detentions.

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