11 Jan 2011

Guantanamo still open at 9th anniversary

Nine years ago to the day, a prison for "war on terror" detainees opened its doors in a remote US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And despite grand promises, it is unlikely to shut any time soon. "At this point, it is clear that Guantanamo will not be closed during this presidential term, or maybe even the next one, despite administration claims that it remains committed to the goal," Columbia University professor, Matthew Waxman, told AFP.

On January 11, 2002, about 20 prisoners arrived at the base, hooded, handcuffed and clothed in distinctive orange prison garb. They were put on display for the world to see, behind the bars of the prison erected on the military base rented from Cuba since the beginning of the 20th century.


Guantanamo quickly became a notorious symbol for the worst of the US excesses in the war on Al-Qaeda launched in the days that followed the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

And rights groups around the world celebrated when new President Barack Obama swore just after his inauguration on January 22, 2009 to shut down the prison, opened by his predecessor George W. Bush. But two years later some 173 prisoners still languish behind its doors. And Obama's room for manoeuvre has been severely curtailed amid a fierce debate over the future of its high-profile foreign inmates.

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