Scotland: 130 Guantanamo 'prisoners' stage protest outside US Consulate

Amnesty International is marking the sixth anniversary of US detentions at Guantánamo Bay (11 January) with protests around the world, including in Edinburgh, as part of its campaign to close the US-run prison camp.

Meanwhile a petition calling for the base to be closed will be handed in to the White House. It has been signed by over 1200 parliamentarians around the world, including 53 members of the Scottish Parliament.

At 1pm on Friday 11th January 130 Amnesty supporters, dressed in the familiar orange boiler suits of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, demonstrated outside the US Consulate in Edinburgh. They included young people from the Amnesty International group at James Gillespie’s school and a Guantanamo choir, singing songs of freedom. The "prisoners" were joined by other protestors holding placards and MSPs Jamie Hepburn and Mike Pringle.

The 130 "prisoners" were formed into lines facing the Consulate by two Amnesty supporters dressed as prison guards while representatives delivered a letter outlining concerns to US Consul Cecile Shea. At 1.30pm the demonstrators then marched towards Princes Street, and recreated the image at the foot of the Mound, next to the National Gallery.

Amnesty International's Scottish Programme Director John Watson said:

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

“This travesty of justice shouldn’t go on a day longer.”

“Along with similar demonstrations around the world, we’re resorting to this protest to send a clear message to the US government: close Guantánamo and other secret prisons immediately.

“Of course governments need to combat terrorism, but this must be done using proper courts and proper justice. Guantánamo’s 275 detainees should be given a fair trial or released to a safe country.

Central Scotland MSP Jamie Hepburn said:

“Guantánamo Bay is a legal black hole. Rather than making the world safe from terrorism it has become a symbol for human rights abuses and set a bad example for other nations to follow.”

Edinburgh South MSP Mike Pringle said:

“I am proud to add my name, alongside 1200 other parliamentarians around the world, to the petition calling for Guantanamo’s closure, which will be handed in to the White House today.”

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.

  • Find out more about our campaign to close Guantanamo
  • See pictures from the protest /a />

View latest press releases