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20 Years at Guantanamo Bay Prison

20 Years at Guantanamo Bay Prison

January 11, 2022, marks the 20th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay Prison. Since it opened, about 780 men have been detained there. Approximately 540 were released during the Bush administration, about 200 during the Obama administration, and one during the Trump administration. Nine detainees died before being released, reducing the total inmate population to 39 men today.

Following is a letter to the President of the United States Joe Biden urging him to follow through with his stated desire to close the prison. The reasons are stated in the letter but chief among them is the abandonment of the rule of law. We believe it is anathema to a democratic society to hold people indefinitely without charge. We encourage our readers to download the letter, sign it, and send it to the president.

Register Online to see two Guantanamo Bay Prison film previews with a panel session including Mohamedou Ould Salahi on Tuesday, January 11th


Dear President Biden:

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On this twentieth anniversary of the opening Guantánamo Bay Prison, thirty-nine men remain detained, at a cost of $540 million per year. You have issued statements indicating that you support closing the detention center but have yet to offer any concrete steps that would result in its closure. Today, we urge you to act. We urge you to put an end to this shameful chapter in American history where a broad range of human rights violations have been perpetrated against predominantly Muslim communities, including torture and the abandonment of the rule of law.

The treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo epitomizes the United States government treatment of communities of color as citizens and non-citizens alike are viewed through a security threat lens. The treatment of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners continues to fuel and justify bigotry, stereotyping, and stigma.

Maintaining the Guantánamo Prison further entrenches racial divisions and racism more broadly, and risks normalizing additional rights violations. "For example, President Trump proposed sending undocumented immigrants to Guantánamo to be held as 'enemy combatants.' He further built upon the discriminatory animus, policies, and practices that Guantánamo represents through his odious Muslim Ban, each iteration of which was explicitly promulgated under the false pretense of protecting the nation from terrorism. And the Trump administration’s militarized federal response to protests against the murders of George Floyd and other Black people was fueled by the war-based post-9/11 security architecture and mindset that Guantánamo epitomizes."

Closing Guantánamo and ending indefinite detention of those held there is a necessary step towards ending the harms it continues to cause to the detainees, their families and the reputation of this nation. We urge you to act without delay.