Campaigners hold coordinated global vigilsfor the closure of Guantánamo on March 8



On March 8 (international Women’s Day), campaigners in the UK, the US andMexico are holding coordinated vigils calling for the release of 18 men stillheld at the prison at Guantánamo Bay (out of 32 in total) who have beenapproved for release, and for the closure of the prison.

For International Women’s Day, they will also be highlighting the sufferingcaused to prisoners’ female relatives — their mothers, wives and daughters —through their long and inexcusable imprisonment without charge or trial.

The campaigners are from organizations including Amnesty International,Close Guantánamo, Witness Against Torture and the World Can’t Wait. Via thecoordinated vigils, which will take place on the first Wednesday of everymonth from now on, they hope in particular to raise awareness of the plight ofthese 18 men, who were never charged with a crime.

Although these men have been unanimously approved for release by high-level government review processes, they continue to be held because theseprocesses were purely administrative, and have no legal weight. Their casesstand in marked contrast to the case of Majid Khan, who was recentlyreleased from Guantánamo after serving a terrorism-related sentence,because he was able to ask a court to order his release when the governmentfailed to promptly release him at the end of his sentence.

Journalist and campaigner Andy Worthington, who initiated and is coordinatingthe global vigils, said:

“The US government claims that it is working hard to secure the release ofthese 18 men, but without legal pressure, there is no sense of urgency, if, asseems apparent, it involves hard work negotiating with prisoners’ homegovernments, or, as is the case for the the majority of the 18 men, finding thirdcountries that are prepared to offer them new homes.”

“Most of the men who need resettling are Yemenis, and, since the early daysof the Obama presidency, Republicans have inserted provisions into theannual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) prohibiting anyrepatriations from Guantánamo to Yemen, and to a handful of other proscribedcountries, provisions which also affect a Libyan and a Somali who have beenapproved for release.”

“Regardless of the difficulties, however, the Biden administration needs toprioritize these men’s release. Shamefully, as of March 8, they have been heldfor between 166 days and 4,793 days since they were approved for release, asituation that is in no way compatible with any notions of justice or fairness.”

The times and locations of the vigils are below:

  • London, 1-3pm GMT: In Parliament Square, opposite the Houses ofParliament, London SW1. Contact: Sara Birch, the convenor of the UKGuantánamo Network (comprising various Amnesty International groups,Close Guantánamo, the Guantánamo Justice Campaign and the LondonGuantánamo Campaign) on 07710 789616.
  • Washington, D.C., Noon-1pm, ET: On the corner of Independence Avenue andNew Jersey Avenue, SE. Contact: Steve Lane, Close Guantánamo’sWashington, D.C. coordinator, on 571 221 4120.
  • New York City, 4:30-5:30pm, ET: On the steps of the New York Public Library,5th Avenue & 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018. Contact: Debra Sweet on718 809 3803.
  • Mexico City, Noon-1pm, CST: US Embassy, Paseo de la Reforma 305,Colonia Cuauhtemoc, 06500 Mexico City. Contact: Natalia on 55 3993 1730.Future vigils will be taking place on Wednesday April 5, Wednesday May 3and Wednesday June 7.

For a poster of the 18 men, and an infographic showing how long they havebeen held since being approved for release, click here

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.