May 1, 2006

NY protesters seek Guantanamo base shutdown

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Protesters seeking a shutdown of
the Guantanamo Bay U.S. prison camp marched to the U.S. Mission
to the United Nations on Monday and held an interfaith service
in its entryway after building owners asked New York police not
to arrest them.

Nearly half the 135 demonstrators, many of them members of
the clergy, had hoped to be arrested as an act of civil
disobedience to protest what they say is torture at the U.S.

When police announced they would not be jailed, protest
leaders boasted of a symbolic victory, saying the police told
them that U.S. diplomats had heard their message.

"Perhaps their hearts were turned in a way," said the Rev.
Osagyefo Sekou, national coordinator of the group Clergy and
Laity Concerned about Iraq.

Several of the protesters dressed in orange jumpsuits and
wore black hoods over their heads as they knelt in front of the
privately owned building in prayer after their march from U.N.
headquarters a half-mile away.

Organizers said they were following up on the
recommendations of five U.N. human rights experts who in
February urged the United States to shut down Guantanamo Bay
after concluding the forced feeding of prisoners and some
interrogation techniques amounted to torture.

The U.N. team rejected an invitation to tour the Guantanamo
facility, where more than 500 people have been held since 2002
following the September 11 attacks, after the U.S. military
said they would not be allowed to interview prisoners.