World Bulletin / News Desk
Human rights activists demonstrated in front of the White House on Thursday, demanding the closure of the detention center at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on its 16th anniversary.
Protestors also rejected the use of torture in Guantanamo detention center (also known as Gitmo) at the demonstration, which was organized by prominent U.S.-based human rights organizations such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and Amnesty International USA.
"Today, 16 years later, I am saddened about what I saw at Guantanamo, which is a symbol of torture and oppression," Mark Fallon, former Homeland Security consultant, familiar with the detentions at the Guantanamo base, said at a press conference.
"I command all of you, who came here and speak out loudly and proudly to defend that constitution and forgotten people in there," he stated.
Fallon emphasized that the U.S. has failed to bring perpetrators of 9/11 attack in New York to justice because of "the national policy of state sponsored torture".
The demonstrators also called for an end to America's indefinite detention of detainees on the 16th anniversary of the controversial facility's opening.
Describing the Gitmo as "cruel dark place", Aliya Hana, Advocacy Program Manager at Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said it designed to isolate the detainees from the world.
She said President Donald Trump keeps Gitmo open because he despises Muslims.
"Guantanamo is the most dramatic and chilling symbol of what abuse this country can tolerate so long is the victims are Muslims," Hana noted, announcing that CCR has officially taken Trump to the court Thursday.
"CCR has filed the first major challenge to Trump’s Guantanamo policies," she added. "They cannot be detained forever in connection to the war that may never end."
The Guantanamo Bay prison was opened shortly after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The first terrorism suspects were detained and taken to the prison Jan. 11, 2002, under order of the then U.S. President George W. Bush.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama promised to shut down the controversial prison since taking office in 2009 but has been met with stiff opposition in Congress.
He has, however, accelerated the pace of getting detainees transferred to third part countries as his term comes to an end.
Daphne Eviatar, Director of Security with Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA said the situation of detainees, who have been held without charge at the detention center gets worse year by year since it has been opened 16 years ago.
Asking "everyone" to support Amnesty International for transferring the detainees who are at the center, Eviatar said her organization now specifically focuses on one detainee who has been cleared to be transferred since 2010. However, he still remains at Guantanamo as of 2018.
"His name is Tavfeek Abdulhani. He is 45-years old and he has been there for 15 years without seeing his family," she continued.
"The U.S. government and all relevant national security agencies have decided he just not pose a threat and can be released from Guantanamo. However, since 2010 he is still there and he is not the only one."
As of now, 41 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, according to the U.S. government.