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No More Promises, Actions Speak Truth - Guantanamo Prison Must be Shut Down

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HOOD and Mr. David Remes, the American lawyer representing 15 Yemeni Guantanamo detainees, held a joint press conference at the main headquarters of HOOD in Sana'a yesterday. He urged the families of Yemeni prisoners in Guantanamo to maintain their pressure on both the US and Yemeni governments for the transfer of their sons, especially in light of the recent passage of a bill barring transfer of the detainees to Yemen in the US Congress. The legislation was passed shortly after Obama's speech in May, where he called for closing the Guantanamo prison and sending the detainees back to Yemen.

"Obama tries to blame the Congress for making the transfer difficult; however, there is a new legislation which I believe will relax the restrictions on the transfer--but it may need at least a year to be executed", Mr. Remes commented.

The US wants guarantees from the Yemeni government that the detainees will not be a threat to the US interests after they return to Yemen. "It is unbelievable that the US wants to know from us things that we don't know. Something in future is still unknown to us, so how can they expect us to predict the future", Mr. Remes said during the conference.

Families of the 26 prisoners who were classified high risk for transfer expressed condemnation and discontent at the finding, saying that there is no concrete evidence or even formal charges to suggest their sons are 'high risk'. "We do not care whether they are sent back to Yemen or to anywhere else; we want them out of there and that’s all," the families said.

On 17 June 2013, the US Pentagon released information on the status of each 166 prisoners remaining in custody at Guantanamo Bay prison. The Final Report of the Guantanamo Review Task Force, dated 22nd January 2010, published the results for the 240 detainees subject to the Review: 36 were the subject of active cases or investigations; 30 detainees from Yemen were designated for 'conditional detention' due to the poor security environment in Yemen; 126 detainees were approved for transfer; 48 detainees, including 26 Yemenis, were determined 'too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution.

166 detainees are still at Guantanamo Bay Prison, around half of whom were cleared for release in 2009 but because of the lack of judicial oversight, they remain imprisoned. This is an extraordinary length of time for them to be imprisoned without any charges or trials. "Enough, Obama--enough! I am the mother of Hayel Aziz who was kidnapped from Pakistan and sold to the Americans," said Hayel's mother, who carries her son's sneakers with her whenever she speaks about him in a public forum.

Families and relatives of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo have staged regular protests and 26 June Gitmo protest1vigils outside the US Embassy in Sana'a, calling on the US President Barack Obama to free the detainees. Recently, on 26 June, the demonstrators marched to the US embassy demanding the release of the detainees. The families promised to persist in and escalate their peaceful actions advocating for the release of the detainees.

"The US administration should realize that this prison [Guantanamo], Bagram, and the like are certain to generate hatred and hostility towards the USA, which in itself puts the security of the US at greater risk." Mr. Abdul-Rahman Barman, HOOD lawyer says, "Security in Yemen is better than in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations where the majority of the prisoners were repatriated from Guantanamo. It is time now that the US show good faith through actions and not by promises", Mr. Barman added.

The majority of Guantanamo inmates are in a hunger strike since early Feb. 2013 protesting the prolonged indefinite detention and invasive search methods that violate their human and religious dignity. About 44 are undergoing forced-feeding almost twice a day.

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