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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 January 2007, 21:43 GMT
Peace activists target Guantanamo
Protest at Guantanamo Bay
The protesters got to the edge of Cuba's military zone near the prison
Anti-war activists have demonstrated near to the US prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to demand its closure.

The 12 activists include an ex-detainee and relatives of another prisoner. The protest marks the fifth anniversary of the first "war on terror" detentions.

The facility was set up at a US base in Cuba after the invasion of Afghanistan, to interrogate "enemy combatants".

The treatment of the 400 prisoners and the legal uncertainty about their fate have drawn international condemnation.

The protesters reached the end of the Cuban military zone which borders the US naval base. It was as far as the Cuban authorities would let them go.

However, they said they were pleased to get this close to the site of what they view as an international disgrace.

They held a vigil and called on the world to put pressure on the US to close down the centre.

Growing momentum

The new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has repeated his predecessor Kofi Annan's call for the facility to be shut down.

Human Rights Watch also urged the US to close the prison. "It is long past time to either bring to trial or set free the detainees who remain there," the New York-based group said in a statement.

The protesters included a British former detainee, Asif Iqbal, the mother and brother of a current detainee, Omar Deghayes, and Cindy Sheehan, a well-known American peace activist.


Omar Deghayes' mother, Zohra Zewawi, said the pain she felt being so close to her imprisoned son with no chance of seeing him was excruciating.

Asif Iqbal - who was held for two and a half years before being released without charge - said his "brothers" inside the base should never lose hope.

Some 75 of the Guantanamo detainees are expected to face military tribunals in the coming months.

The others face indefinite detention without trial at the naval facility - which lies outside the jurisdiction of the US judicial system.

The Bush administration says it is a vital tool in its "war on terror".

Protests were held in several cities around the world, including Rome, London, Tokyo and New York.

A former detainee speaks out against the prison

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