Guantánamo: 12 Years Too Many, No More Excuses, Shut It Down

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“In retrospect, the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong. We squandered the goodwill of the world after we were attacked by our actions in Guantánamo.”

- Major General Michael Lehnert (ret.), first commander of detentions at Guantánamo (2002), December 2013

By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA

As U.S. detentions at Guantánamo enter their 13th year, we need to take President Obama and Congress to task for their delay in closing the detention facility.

It’s been twelve years too many. The time for action is now. President Obama must transfer cleared detainees, including Shaker Aamer. There are no excuses, especially now that he has greater flexibility from Congress to do just that.

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This Woman Has Been Denied Justice for 17 Years

Indigenous Bangladeshi women during a demonstration demanding an end to encroaching development on their lands, still asking for the rights Kalpana Chakma fought for before her disappearance (Photo Credit: Shawkat Khan/AFP/Getty Images).

Indigenous Bangladeshi women during a demonstration demanding an end to encroaching development on their lands, still asking for the rights Kalpana Chakma fought for before her disappearance (Photo Credit: Shawkat Khan/AFP/Getty Images).

By Rebecca Landy, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

You probably are aware of the news reports in the last twelve months regarding the horrific sweatshop fires and building collapses in Bangladesh that killed and injured over a thousand, mainly women, laborers.

Or maybe you read recently about U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay calling out Bangladesh for the injustice and violation of international law in the recent verdict of death sentences for 152 border guards accused of murder.

But chances are you have not heard of Kalpana Chakma and the 17-year miscarriage of justice in waiting for a proper investigation into her disappearance.

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What Everyone Should Know About Rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo

A ten-year-old girl who was raped twice in  ten days surrounded by other raped victims and a counselor (Photo Credit:  ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

A ten-year-old girl who was raped twice in ten days surrounded by other raped victims and a counselor (Photo Credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images).

By Rebecca Landy, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group with the Democratic Republic of Congo Country Specialists

For almost two decades, armed conflict has ravaged the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During this time, civilians have faced persistent human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including unlawful killings, rape, and sexual violence.

An October 2013 report by the Ministry of Gender stressed the high rates of sexual violence in areas of armed conflict – citing approximately 7,000 cases of sexual violence in North Kivu province in 2011 alone. As sexual violence is usually largely under-reported, the actual number is likely even higher.

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The Plight of Guantanamo’s Cleared Detainees in A Powerful New Video

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The folks over at The Guardian released this creative animated video today based on the testimony of Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared for transfer out of the detention facility but are still held.

Shaker Aamer is one of the people featured in the video. He has been detained for over 11 years without charge, despite being cleared to leave and despite UK Prime Minister David Cameron personally asking President Obama to return him to the UK. You can read Cameron’s letter to Amnesty International here.

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Former Child Soldier Thanks Amnesty Members After Being Released From Guantánamo

A watch tower is seen in the currently closed Camp X-Ray, which was the first detention facility to hold 'enemy combatants' at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba  (Photo  Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

A watch tower at Camp X-Ray, which was the first detention facility to hold ‘enemy combatants’ at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

From Afghanistan to Guantánamo Bay and now the outskirts of Edmonton. Who would have thought that human rights campaigning that began with a short news report that a 15-year-old Canadian had been arrested by U.S. forces on the battlefield in Afghanistan in the summer of 2002 and continued through a decade of activism, media interviews and legal work while that same young Canadian endured the lawlessness and injustices of Guantánamo Bay; would now bring me to a maximum security prison outside Edmonton?

But that is where, after eleven years of working on his case, I recently traveled to meet and spend some time with Omar Khadr.

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Life Under Pinochet: ‘I Remember Being Shown Some Very Severe Signs of Torture’

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In advance of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30th, we have the following feature on Augusto Pinochet’s regime.

Roger Plant joined Amnesty International in 1972 to cover the organization’s work on Latin America. A few months after Pinochet took power by force, he went to Chile to document the arbitrary detentions, torture and disappearances. The result was a groundbreaking report that helped shine a light on the reality of life in the Latin-American country.

As a young researcher, Roger Plant had only been working for Amnesty International for less than a year when Augusto Pinochet launched his coup d’état in 1973. With his feet barely under the desk, it was a baptism of fire – a seminal moment that would eventually define his career.

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4,000 Days in Limbo at Guantanamo

Obaidullah, from Afghanistan, has been in U.S. military custody since July 2002 (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Obaidullah, from Afghanistan, has been in U.S. military custody since July 2002 (Photo Credit: Private).

By Rob Freer, Amnesty International Researcher on the USA

Imagine this.

You are 19-years-old, asleep in your family home in a remote rural village. In the middle of the night, foreign soldiers burst in.

They put a hood over your head and force you to sit against a wall. You are terrified.

After a few hours, bound hand and foot and still hooded, you are taken to a military base.

There you are physically assaulted, interrogated, threatened with a knife and deprived of sleep and food. You fear you will be killed.

After what you think is about 48 hours – your disorientation makes it difficult to know for sure – you are bundled, still hooded and shackled, into a helicopter and flown to another, larger military facility. There the interrogations and abuse continue.

Three months later, you are taken from your cell, your head is shaved, you are put into shackles and blacked-out goggles, and you and some others are thrown into a transport plane and tied down like cargo.

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The Future of Human Rights in Iran Under President-Elect Hassan Rouhani

People hold campaign posters of Iranian presidential candidate, Hassan Rowhani in the streets during a presidential election rally on June 11, 2013 in Tehran, Iran (Photo Credit: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images).

People hold campaign posters of Iranian presidential candidate, Hassan Rowhani in the streets during a presidential election rally on June 11, 2013 in Tehran, Iran (Photo Credit: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images).

Iran’s challenges are not few, from job creation and stopping inflation to improving foreign relations. Most presidential candidates in 2013 ran on such platforms. However, there was a key issue that was not directly addressed in their political vernacular: human rights.

While many jubilant Iranians and a hopeful international community are touting president-elect Hassan Rouhani as a reformist because of his promise to ease restrictions at home, free political prisoners, and to offer more transparency for Iran’s controversial nuclear program, it should not be ignored that he remains, nevertheless, among those select few candidates approved to run by Iran’s Guardian Council.

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‘The Agency That Shall Remain Nameless’: Things Left Unsaid at Guantanamo

"...there is still a length of heavy chain bolted to the floor in front of each of their seats should it be deemed necessary. They are not in prison uniform, they all wear white clothing, with turbans or headscarves..." (Photo Credit: Michelle Shephard-Pool/Getty Images).

“…there is still a length of heavy chain bolted to the floor in front of each of their seats should it be deemed necessary. They are not in prison uniform, they all wear white clothing, with turbans or headscarves…” (Photo Credit: Michelle Shephard-Pool/Getty Images).

By Anne FitzGerald, Director of Research and Crisis Response

In the military commission court - a prefabricated industrial building on a decommissioned airfield surrounded by razor wire – we observers sit behind four layers of soundproof glass, watching proceedings via a 40-second delay. The delay allows the court to cut audio to the gallery, in case someone lets slip any classified information. But even 40 seconds late, the tension is clear between secrecy and the open examination of evidence that marks a fair trial.

The five 9/11 defendants - Yemeni nationals Walid bin Attash and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Saudi Arabian Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi, and Pakistani nationals Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ammar al Baluchi (Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali) – have been in the court three of four days this week. None seem to be taking part in the ongoing hunger strike.

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