Approximately 250 Yemeni demonstrators gathered Monday in front of the US Embassy in Sanna [official website] to demand the release of Yemeni detainees held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. According to media sources, 90 out the 166 remaining Guantanamo detainees are Yemeni [AP report], and several have been detained for more than a decade. Protesters reportedly decried conditions at the prison, citing reports of inhumane treatment, water deprivation and forced feeding. Protesters also held up photos of their detained relatives and denounced treatment allegedly leading to several suicides, including that of Salah Al-Salami, who committed suicide while in detention [JURIST report] in 2006. The protest prompted dispatch of the Yemeni military. Among the Yemeni detainees is Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [JURIST news archive], who is accused of bombing the USS Cole while it was in port in Yemen in October 2000.
Detention at Guantanamo Bay remains a controversial subject worldwide. Last month human rights lawyers filed an emergency motion [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that guards have denied drinking water and sufficient clothing to Yemeni prisoner Musa'ab Omar al-Madhwani. Also in March the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and defense lawyers for terrorism detainees held at Guantanamo Bay sent a letter [JURIST report] to Rear Admiral John Smith Jr. describing harsh conditions faced by the detainees and indicated that the detainees have begun to protest the conditions via hunger strike. The lawyers learned of these practices and protests after being permitted to visit [JURIST report] the detention center in February, though Guantanamo has long been the subject of various controversies during the Global War on Terror [JURIST backgrounder]. Amnesty International (AI) contends that 32-year-old al-Madhwani has been held without cause at Guantanamo Bay [AI report] for more than a decade, where he was sent shortly following his arrest by Pakistani security forces on September 11, 2002. In May 2011 the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed a lower court's decision confirming that al-Madhwani was lawfully detained [JURIST report] for being part of al Qaeda. In December 2009, the district court denied al-Madwani's habeas corpus petition, ruling that the government may continue to detain him.