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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 24 November, 2014

Group to protest Irish government ‘silence’ on Guantanamo Bay

Current two-thirds of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are on a hunger strike.

April 18, 2013 video frame grab reviewed by the U.S. military, soldiers walk past detainees' cells during early morning prayer at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
April 18, 2013 video frame grab reviewed by the U.S. military, soldiers walk past detainees' cells during early morning prayer at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
Image: Suzette Laboy/AP/Press Association Images

A GROUP IS to gather outside the Dáil this afternoon to protest against the Irish Government’s silence on the hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay.

The protest by the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) will take place at Dáil Eireann at 1pm today. The group is protesting what it describes as “the continued incarceration and torture of inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre”.

The protest has been called to coincide with a speech that Barack Obama is due to make on the issue today.

The IAWM statement said that this will be a colourful protest, and its PRO Jim Roche told TheJournal.ie that they anticipate around 15 – 30 people will attend to highlight the conditions that the prisoners are under.

They have also invited several supportive TDs and Senators to the protest. Currently there are 166 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, with 103 on hunger strike, 30 of whom are being force-fed.

The first prisoners arrived in Guantanamo 11 years ago.

Roche said:

It is truly shocking that the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre is still open and that 166 detainees, almost all of them innocent, remain incarcerated there. Only 6 detainees are facing charges. It is such a dark stain on Barack Obama’s presidency considering that he promised to close it before he got elected for his first term five years ago.

He described it as “galling that the Irish Government has been so silent on this issue”.

We are having this protest at Dáil Eireann to show solidarity with the Guantanamo Prisoners and to call on the Irish Government to press Barack Obama to close down the facility once and for all and to release those prisoners who have not been charged.

Roche said that in particular the group is calling on Minister of Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore to speak out about the issue, and said of the Irish government’s stance so far:

It indicates to us that they don’t want to say anything that might be seen as upsetting the US government and it’s the same attitude that has led to them allowing the use of Shannon Airport by the US military and rendition flight.

Similar events have been held in Galway and in other cities around the world as part of a global movement on the issue.

Read: Pressure grows on Obama to free hunger strikers – or put them on trial>

Read: Guantanamo is a legal no man’s land that ‘needs to be closed’>

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