Amnesty International protests Gitmo detentions

January 11, 2012 9:24:43 PM PST
Wednesday evening, a vigil took place at the San Francisco Federal Building. It marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. The facility has housed suspected terrorists, ever since the Sept. 11th attacks.

Some of the people ABC7 spoke to said they never thought they'd be protesting 10 years later.

Ten years ago, the first 20 prisoners arrived at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Eventually that number would go up to nearly 700. Peter Jan Honigsberg is a professor of law at USF. In 2007 he visited Guantanamo and wrote about it.

"By creating Guantanamo and the lack of due process and mistreatment of detainees, has really changed the way America has been seen by people all over the world," said Honigsberg.

Today 171 prisoners remain despite President Barack Obama's promise in 2009 to shut it down within a year. That has not happened.

Wednesday, protesters in San Francisco marked the 10-year anniversary of Guantanamo by forming a human chain and by wearing orange jumpsuits representing the detainees.

"I hoped the American people would be astute enough to force the closure," said protester Maryann Thomas.

But Congress has opposed any transfer of prisoners to the U.S. and has voted against financing trials of captives on U.S. soil.

Back in 2009 when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was the Republican leader, he said, "I'm concerned some will be let go too soon and could end up back on the battlefield."

In San Francisco Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told us what it will take to finally close Guantanamo.

"It's not going to come to an end soon unless the American people insist upon it. Elections have ramifications," said Pelosi.

The U.S. says some prisoners are too dangerous to release and as for the others, the U.S. claims it cannot find nations that will host them.


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