The U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba is an enduring international symbol of injustice and torture, and it continues to cause profound harm to the 40 men who remain imprisoned. New reports show that President Biden is currently reviewing policies with the goal of closing the prison — we must make sure that he moves quickly to end indefinite detention without charge or trial and close Guantánamo once and for all.
The prison, designed to indefinitely detain Muslims, is a critical fixture of the post-9/11 “War on Terror” that has predominantly criminalized, surveilled, incarcerated, and tortured Muslims, U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike, with little legal recourse. While Guantánamo is part of the US’ carceral state, its existence in the War on Terror symbolizes a place beyond the law where the US government has extended the boundaries of what is considered acceptable treatment of Muslims in addition to other marginalized communities. Moreover, Guantánamo has exported its harsh conditions to domestic prisons such as Communication Management Units, located in Terre Haute, Indiana and Marion Illinois.
Since 2002, the U.S. has imprisoned nearly 800 Muslim men and boys. Today, 40 men remain. Most have never been charged with a crime, and none have had access to a fair trial. Many were tortured by the U.S., and all have suffered from the physical and psychological effects of indefinite detention for over a decade. A number of men have even been approved for transfer by the government, yet political delays have kept them languishing behind bars.
With the 20th anniversary of the global “War on Terror” approaching, ending indefinite detention and closing the prison is a necessary step towards justice, accountability, and reconciliation.
Guantánamo is just one the U.S. government’s more contemporary pursuits in egregious human rights violations in a long history of abuses against Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities within the US and abroad. The prison is part of the decades-long legacy of mass incarceration and U.S. militarism, and more recently, the connections with the mass immigration detention and deportation apparatus have also become clear. Calls for its closure must be part of our collective demands to expose the U.S.’s racist history and contemporary practices in policing and mass incarceration, and demand investment instead in community healing and other needs.
President Biden has said he intends to close Guantánamo. Now he must take action towards that goal. The Biden administration should release the dozens of men who have never been charged with a crime to their home or third countries and resolve the remaining cases by bringing them to federal court for trial or negotiating their transfer to foreign countries to serve sentences. The U.S. must ensure that no one is transferred to countries where they are in danger of persecution and torture.
Add your name: Urge the Biden administration to close Guantánamo prison and end indefinite detention once and for all.