A group of American pacifists on Thursday held protest demonstrations outside the U.S. Guantanamo Bay military base, demanding the closure of a prison set up there for jailing what Washington brands as terror suspects.
The demonstrators marched from the city of Guantanamo to the edge of the military base to mark the fifth anniversary of the facility being used as a prison.
The march was led by Cindy Sheehan, a well-known anti-Iraq war activist whose serviceman son was killed in Iraq, Adel Welty, whose son died in the 9/11 attacks on the New York World Trade Center, and Tiffany Burns, an activist with the human rights group Gold Star Families for Peace.
Also marching were Zohra Shaban Zewawi and Taher Deghayes, the mother and brother respectively of a detainee Omar Deghayes, who has been held there for five years, and Ann Wright, a colonel who resigned from her military post because she disagreed with the war in Iraq.
The activists demanded the U.S. close what they described as a "concentration camp" and called for the prisoners to receive appropriate, humane treatment supervised by the Red Cross.
The U.S. has sought to keep the prisoners out of its territory so that they will not be subject to normal U.S. laws, which limit the length of holding suspects for questioning without trial.
U.S. authorities say that their prisoners are Al-Qaida or Taliban members and too dangerous undergo normal trials.
Prisoners released from the camp have reported torture, humiliation and abusive interrogation techniques.
Washington is confronted with world-wide calls to shut the prison down.
The U.S. first sent 14 of what it called "high value" prisoners to the camp on Jan. 11, 2002. Over 770 people were held at the camp over the last five years, of whom only 10 have been charged with crimes. There are now 395 detainees at the camp.
U.S. troops have been stationing at the base since 1903. Cuba has demanded the 117 square km of territory be returned, and has been complaining about the prison facility since the day it opened.