Protesters: Close detention camp



The U.S. military is holding about 395 men suspected of being linked to terrorism.
GUANTANAMO, Cuba (AP) -- Cindy Sheehan marched with the mothers of a Guantanamo prisoner, a New York firefighter killed on Sept. 11 and other peace activists Thursday to demand the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay be closed five years after the first terror suspects arrived.
The protest in Cuba came as demonstrators in Washington and London, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, called for the prison's closure.
"What I've read happens in this prison makes me sick to my stomach," the 49-year-old Sheehan said outside the post where Cuban officials stopped the dozen protesters from entering the Cuban military territory to reach the U.S. base's main gate.
Sheehan, who became a war protester after her 24-year-old son Casey died in Iraq in April 2004, joined the other women in fastening bouquets of yellow and pink wildflowers to the barbed-wire fence, as well as a bright pink cloth reading, "Women say NO to torture."
Zohra Zewawi, the mother of British detainee Omar Deghayes, traveled from the United Arab Emirates with another son, Taher Deghayes, to join the protest. She said her son had been tortured and blinded in one eye after he was imprisoned in September 2002 and still has not been charged.
Adele Welty, whose firefighter son Timothy was killed in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack, called on Americans to contact Congress to demand the closure of the prison and fair trials for the detainees.
The protesters also included Asif Iqbal, a British Muslim who spent 21/2 years at the prison. He expressed support for those still inside.
Rick Mines, a 63-year-old agriculture economist from Rail Road Flat, Calif., made his own dramatic statement, appearing in an orange jumpsuit, black hood, goggles and headphones similar to what the terror suspects wore when they first arrived five years ago.
The U.S. military is holding about 395 men on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban, including about 85 who have been cleared to be released or transferred to other countries.
Critics say the camp, where most of the prisoners face indefinite incarceration, is an affront to democratic values. Allegations of abuse have fueled worldwide outrage.
The military says the detention center is vital to the fight against terrorism and that instances of abuse have been investigated and the perpetrators disciplined. The detention camp commander, Adm. Harry B. Harris, says aggressive interrogation tactics are no longer used.
At the United Nations, the new secretary-general echoed an appeal by his predecessor, Kofi Annan, who urged the Bush administration to shut down the prison.
Other demonstrations
In Washington, about 100 protesters were arrested inside a federal courthouse after a brief demonstration demanding the prison's shutdown. Earlier, outside the Supreme Court building, several hundred demonstrators and dozens of rights activists wearing orange prison jump suits and black hoods also called for the closure of Guantanamo.
About 100 people protested outside the U.S. Embassy in London, wearing orange inmate outfits. Three "guards" wearing green camouflage shouted orders for them to stand up or kneel down. Similar demonstrations took place in Greece, Hungary and Italy.
Activists angered by President Bush's decision to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq staged protests Thursday from New York to San Francisco, declaring that the extra troops would only give insurgents thousands of new American targets.
Hundreds of anti-war protesters crammed onto a traffic island in New York's Times Square, chanting "Stop the funding, stop the war" as drivers in one of the world's most famous intersections honked in support.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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