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Monday, January 08, 2007

US Activists Arrive in Cuba to Protest Guantanamo Prison


Published on Sunday, January 7, 2007 by Agence France Presse

Prominent US anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan and four other American human rights activists have arrived in Havana to take part in a demonstration demanding that Washington close down its "war on terror" prison in Guantanamo Bay.


American activist Cindy Sheehan makes a peace sign as she walks up stairs along with, from right to left, Cuban Baptist minister Raul Suarez, Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange and Codepink, Tiffany Burns of Code Pink, Adele Welty, whose fire-fighter son was killed on 9/11, and Ann Wright, a retired colonel of the U.S. army, after they arrived at the Jose Marti airport in Havana, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2007. Cindy Sheehan, known as the 'peace mom', called for the closure of the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, several activists arrived to Cuba to draw attention to the nearly 400 terror suspects still held at the remote site. (AP Photo/ Javier Galeano)
The group plans to join a protest on Thursday in front of the US naval base on the eastern tip of Cuba, where the detention center that holds nearly 400 terror suspects is located.

"More important is the inhumanity that my country is perpetrating in Guantanamo," Sheehan told reporters at Havana's airport.

"I am worried about our soldiers who get reprisals because of that treatment," said Sheehan, who gained international attention by staging an anti-war campout outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranch following the death of her soldier son in Iraq.

Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel and ex-career diplomat, was also among the five women who arrived in Havana on Saturday.

"This prison needs to be closed down," Wright said. "There needs to be justice but not ... military courts."

The United States has tight restrictions on traveling to Cuba for its citizens, but the activists came here with a special permit to attend a human rights conference as rights investigators.

A former Guantanamo detainee will also participate in Thursday's protest, the fifth anniversary of the arrival of the first war-on-terror prisoner at the naval base.

Asif Iqbal, a Briton who was held in Guantanamo for three years and released without being charged, will be the first ex-prisoner to protest at the site for the "International Day to Close Down Guantanamo," US organizers said this week.

Zohra Zewawi, mother of a Guantanamo prisoner held since September 2002, will also join the protest.

Zewawi and Iqbal are due to arrive in Cuba Sunday.

About 395 suspected terrorists are held at Guantanamo, the US Defense Department said last month.
buted to this report.

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