Cuba, 23 Jumadil Akhir 1434/2 May 2013 (MINA) – Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla has called on the United States to close its infamous Guantanamo Bay prison and return the military base to Havana.

       “We are deeply concerned about the legal limbo that supports the permanent and atrocious violation of human rights at the illegal naval base in Guantanamo, a Cuba territory that was usurped by the United States, a centre of torture and deaths of prisoners who are under custody,” Parrilla said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday.

       Parrilla made the comments a day after US President Barack Obama promised to make a new attempt to shut down the military prison.

       The United States holds 166 men at the prison, with most of the captives being held without any charges or trial.

        The 166 people had been detained in Guantanamo for 10 years, “without any guarantees, without being tried by a court or the right to legal defense,” the foreign minister pointed out.

        “That prison and military base should be shut down and that territory should be returned to Cuba,” he said.

         Parrilla also condemned the force-feeding of around 20 hunger strikers who, like the majority of the detainees in the prison, have been refusing food for weeks.

         According to Press TV reports quoted by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Around 130 prisoners are on a hunger strike to protest against prison conditions and their indefinite confinement.

         On Tuesday, the United Nations said that the force-feeding of Guantanamo Bay prisoners was against international law and a violation of human rights.

         “If it’s clearly against the will of the people who are being forcibly fed, then in a view of the World Medical Association and indeed our view, this would amount to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment which is not permissible under international law,” UN spokesman on human rights Rupert Colville said.

         On March 11, attorneys for more than a dozen of the prisoners said that the hunger strike was prompted by a series of searches that began on February 6, in which a number of personal items, including books, CDs, blankets, and legal mail, were confiscated.

         The Guantanamo detention facility was initially established on January 11, 2002 by former US President George W. Bush to hold suspects captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

         Obama famously promised in early 2009 to close the military’s detention facility within 12 months, but four years on, the controversial prison remains open. He has put the blame on Congress for his failure to make good on his promise.(T/P05/E1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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