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The Pentagon announced the transfer of 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans from Guantánamo Bay bringing the total of prisoners down to 61. Almost all of the detainees have been held in the Cuban facility without charges or trial for over ten years. President Obama had pledged to close the prison during his first campaign and has struggled ever since to achieve this goal. He has also proposed the transfer of the remaining inmates to the U.S., but Congress has mostly blocked this move.

The United Arab Emirates, who have accepted detainees in the past, agreed to have the detainees transferred there.

In an article that appeared in the BBC, “Life after Guantanamo prison” a reporter summarizes his conversations with strangers he stopped on the streets in Kabul and other provinces of Afghanistan to ask if they had heard of Manhattan or the World Trade Center. Few of them had. But all of them knew about Guantanamo.

Afghans represented over 200 of the detainees at the prison, and most have been released and returned to Afghanistan. Many talked about the abuse they receive at the hands of American guards. The topic of the prison was very much on the minds of these people. When the Kabul and other provinces of Afghanistan residents were asked if they had heard of Manhattan or the World Trade Center, few of them had. But all of them knew about Guantanamo, the reporter learned.

One of those interviewed, Haji Ghalib, said, “In the history of mankind, there have been only two such cruel prisons. One was Hitler’s and the other one is this American prison.” Ghalib is a former district police officer from eastern Afghanistan, who was arrested in his office in February 2003.

We applaud President Obama’s efforts to close the prison and are opposed to the practice of suspending due process to anyone housed there. We reiterate our opposition to the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment and all forms of torture for anyone in custody in civilian or military facilities.


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