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US demonstrators urge Gitmo closure

Press TV | June 27, 2007

Hundreds of demonstrators in front of the Capitol Hill have demanded the closure of US infamous military jail at Guantanamo Bay.

Several leading rights groups orchestrated the rally in Washington on Tuesday calling for the closure of the Guantanamo prison in southeast Cuba.

The organizers said 250,000 signatures had been gathered for a petition to US President George W. Bush to shut down the prison and respect the rights of the detainees, AFP reported on Tuesday.

The protesters also called for the closing of all secret prisons of the US Central Intelligence Agency and demanded an investigation into the abuse of inmates by US soldiers.

The Pentagon opened the military enclave in Guantanamo in the wake of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and now has nearly 175 people confined with no charge yet.

Democrat congressman, Tom Harkin, exhorted Bush to close Guantanamo.

Guantanamo was not merely a problem but "an international disgrace that every day continues to sully the nation's reputation", Steny Hoyer, the majority leader and the second ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, said this week.

Approximately 660 men from Arab, Muslim, and South Asian countries continue to be held without the means or right to communicate at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay. The Bush administration says they are not covered by the Geneva Convention, which would entitle them to refuse interrogation.

Some are being questioned up to 16 hours a day, with basic comforts withheld if they refuse to cooperate. Nor are they entitled to fundamental American legal rights, because they are imprisoned on Cuban soil.

Only 64 of them have been sent home, among them three children held for almost two years who were between the ages of 13 and 15 on release. The total number of prisoners under 18 is not known, as the military classifies 16 and 17 year old prisoners as adults.

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