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On the 5th anniversary of Guantanamo

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Seventy-one dressed in orange jumpsuits and hoods traveled through Minneapolis skyways and buildings downtown yesterday to remind people of the national disgrace and urge for its closure.

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--photo by Kayak Biker (More pictures by Kayak Biker at: Guantanamo is a symbol of America's corrosion. Torture, death, unlawful detainment, child prisoners, kidnapping or "extraordinary rendition," bounties that delivered prisoners detained for years without evidence or charges. For people around the world Guantanamo Bay isn't just a U.S. disgrace, it's a blot on humanity and must be eliminated. Opponents of the ongoing human rights abuses at Guantanamo chose Thursday, January 11, the fifth anniversary of the day the United States brought the first detainees to the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as the day to say no more excuses, stop the abuses. The United States has brought more than 700 prisoners from 40 countries to Guantanamo since 2002. More than half are still held there. Of the 435 detainees currently being held at Guantanamo, only 10 have been charged with terrorism-related offenses. Of the 245 that have been released to their home countries, 205 were freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention. After all the squawking, half-lies, and hand-wringing about torture and the death of human rights, nothing has changed for the prisoners at Guantanamo. New UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, like his predecessor, called for the closure of Guantanamo yesterday. Five years is long enough. Americans and humanitarians around the world must demand that the U.S. government shut it down. Timeline at Guantanamo: November 13, 2001 – Bush issues Presidential Military Order giving himself the power to detain non-citizens suspected of connection to terrorism as an enemy combatant. Under the order, a person could be held indefinitely, without charges being filed against him or her, without a court hearing, and without entitlement to a legal consultant. January 11, 2002 -- U.S. brings first detainees to Guantanamo. The plane that arrives from Afghanistan is carrying 20 men. February 27, 2002 – Two-thirds of detainees go on a hunger strike March 11, 2003 – Federal Appeals Court rules that detainees have no legal rights in the United States. July 30, 2004 -- Pentagon creates Combatant Status Review Tribunals to review detainee's "enemy combatant" status on a case-by-case basis. Lawyers are banned. August 26-28, 2004: 23 prisoners attempt suicide January 25, 2005 – U.S. announces plan to investigate allegations of abuse May 2005 -- A published report alleges copies of the Koran were mishandled by guards, sparking worldwide protests. U.S. later confirms five cases of mishandling. February 16, 2006 -- UN human rights investigators call for the immediate closure of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. June 10, 2006: 3 Guantanamo prisoners, two Saudis and one Yemeni, take their own lives. Department of State spokesperson Colleen Graffy calls the suicides a "good PR move to draw attention." Their suicide notes are not made public. June 21, 2006 -- Bush response to worldwide angst and anger over the three suicides: "I'd like to end Guantánamo. I'd like it to be over with. One of the things we will do is we'll send people back to their home countries.... There are some who need to be tried in U.S. courts. They're cold-blooded killers...And yet, we believe there's a – there ought to be a way forward in a court of law, and I'm waiting for the Supreme Court of the United States to determine the proper venue in which these people can be tried." June 10, 2006 – 25 activists arrested at U.S. Mission to the United Nations while calling for an end to torture and for the closure of Guantanamo. June 29, 2006 -- Supreme Court rules (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld) that previous efforts to try Guantanamo detainees under military war crimes were unconstitutional. The ruling re-confirmed the right of U.S. citizens to habeas corpus even when declared an enemy combatant. The Court affirmed the basic principle that habeas corpus of a citizen could not be revoked October 17, 2006 –Congress strips Writ of habeas corpus out of Bill of Rights as part of the Military Commissions Act. The Act designates that the withdrawal of habeas corpus applies to only non-US enemy combatants, resident aliens, and those giving comfort and aid to them "in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States." October 19, 2006 – Bush signs Military Commissions Act into law. Keith Olbermann, MSNBC "Countdown" commentator says we now have "A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from." November 14, 2006 – Center for Constitutional Rights files war crimes lawsuit in Germany against former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Attorney General Gonzalez and former CIA Director Tenet over prisoner torture November 14, 2006 – CIA confirms existence of two Presidential Orders authorizing detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects overseas November 17, 2006 – U.S. military announces plan to build a $125 million courtroom complex at Guantanamo for holding war-crimes trials for terror suspects. The compound will accommodate up to 1,200 people, and would include three courtrooms, dining rooms, offices and sleeping accommodations for administrative personnel, lawyers, journalists and others involved in trials. It would also include a high-security area to house the detainees on trial. The contractor who "wins" the bid for the construction project will be required to complete work by July 2007. December 15, 2006 – The U.S. will continue to hold detainees indefinitely, even if there is insufficient evidence to bring them to trial, U.S. State Department legal adviser John Bellinger tells the Daily Telegraph (UK) January 9, 2007 – A U.S. delegation including Medea Benjamin of CodePink, depart for Cuba and plan to march to the gates of Guantanamo and demand its closure. Guantanamo by the numbers 6.5 x 8 feet – Approximate size of cell in Guantánamo 1,805 – Number of days that hundreds have been held at Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial as of Dec. 10, 2006 430 – Approximate number of people in custody at Guantánamo Bay as of Nov. 17, 2006 14 – Number of "high value detainees" held at Guantánamo 13 – Age of Mohammed Ismail Agha when taken into U.S. custody in Afghanistan in late 2002 before being transferred to Guantánamo 10 – Number of people in Guantánamo who charged with any crime Attempted Suicides 350 –Incidents of self-harm in Guantánamo Bay in 2003 120 – Incidents were "hanging gestures" in 2003 110 – Incidents of harm/suicide reported for 2005 34 – Number of prisoners whose self-harm incidents were labeled "attempted suicide" by the U.S. since January 2002 23 – Number of prisoners that tried to hang or strangle themselves in August 2003 21– Number of the 23 prisoners whose attempts were written off as "attention-getting" gestures 2 – Number of the 23 prisoners classified as attempting suicide. 3 – Number of prisoners who died in detention of apparent suicides Detained without Adequate Proof 55% – Percent of detainees not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States 40% – Percent of detainees who have no definitive connection with Al Qaeda 18% – Percent of detainees who have no definitive connection to either Al Qaeda or Taliban 8% – Percent of detainees characterized as Al Qaeda fighters Bought Detainees (when the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies): 86% – Detainees not detained on the battle field but were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody 66% – Detainees captured by Pakistani authorities 20% – Detainees captured by the Northern Alliance/Afghan authorities 8% – Detainees captured by U.S. authorities 3% – Detainees captured by other coalition forces Source: Amnesty International, December 2006


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Kathlyn Stone is a Minnesota-based writer covering science and medicine, health care and related policies.-She publishes, a health and science news site.
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