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Saturday Is 12th Anniversary of Gitmo; Protests Planned

Happy birthday, Gitmo!

Saturday, January 11, marks the 12th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility -- the 12th anniversary of indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Protestors from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Amnesty International USA, and some 20 other organizations will be marching in Washington to demand the closure of the facility, where about 150 prisoners remain.

In a statement, they said they will "call on President Obama to finally fulfill his broken promise to shut it down. President Obama has the power to close Guantánamo, and the new National Defense Authorization Act (2014 NDAA) just approved by Congress makes it even easier for him to do so."

The" DC March Against Torture, Guantanamo & NDAA Demonstration" starts at noon Saturday at the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.). There's Free housing available at a D.C. church on January 10, if anyone wants to trek up. (Email witnesstorture@gmail.com for more info.)

Everyone else can follow the action with the Twitter hashtag #CloseGitmo.

Individuals can also sign an online letter of support penned by the Center for Constitutional Rights. It says:

More than half of the men detained at Guantánamo are from Yemen, and most of these men have been cleared for release by the Obama administration itself, with the unanimous consent of the CIA, FBI, Defense, Justice, and State Departments. They continue to be detained because of where they are from, and their collective punishment based on their nationality must end.

The Center says that many of the prisoners at Guantanamo -- like 34-year-old Tariq Ba Odah -- were "captured in Pakistan by local authorities and sold to the United States for bounty" and do not understand why there was any basis for their arrests. Ba Odah has virtually no human contact, is only allowed out of his cell for two to four hours per day, and has been hunger striking since 2007, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is force fed daily.

Send story tips to Deirdra.Funcheon@BrowardPalmBeach.com

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