Worldwide protests against Guantanamo

LONDON, Jan 11: Demonstrators -- some wearing Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuits -- staged protests from Melbourne to Washington on Thursday demanding closure of the US military prison in Cuba, where terrorism suspects have been held for years without trial.

Twelve American peace activists, including Cindy Sheehan, marched to the security fence around the U.S. military enclave in eastern Cuba chanting `Guantanamo prison, place of shame, no more torture in our name’.

“If dogs were treated like this in my country, there would be an uprising,” Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, said as the group placed flowers by a barbed wire fence seven kilometres from the US naval base that houses the prison.

The first detainees were flown shackled, blindfolded and wearing orange suits to the heavily guarded Guantanamo camp five years ago, soon after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan was launched after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

More than 770 captives have been held at Guantanamo since its opening, of whom only 10 have been charged with crimes.

About 395 prisoners remain there, suspected of Al Qaeda and Taliban links.

Speaking at UN headquarters on the fifth anniversary of the camp's opening, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged that it be closed.

President George Bush has acknowledged the camp is hurting the US image. But he has made no moves to close it and last year signed legislation barring foreign captives from challenging their detention through the US courts.

British citizen Asif Iqbal, who spent two years in Guantanamo only to be released without charges, returned for the protest against the camp.

Iqbal, who said he was interrogated endlessly, tortured with sleep deprivation and coerced into signing a false confession, read out letters from other former detainees.—Reuters

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