GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA (RNN) - Wednesday will mark the 10th birthday of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, giving it the dubious honor of being the longest standing "war prison," according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The United State's reputation as a defender of human rights has been profoundly diminished because of Guantanamo's continued existence, damaging our ability to effect change on the world stage," the ACLU said in a statement.
Human rights groups across the globe have planned demonstrations to mark the anniversary, including events in Washington, San Francisco, Chicago and Raleigh, NC.
"We want to remind the President and people who visit the White House of Obama's Guantanamo and Bagram [Afghanistan] detention regimes," said Brian Terrell, a human rights advocate in Maloy, Iowa. Terrell also highlighted that a majority of prisoners - 89, according to the Human Rights Watch - have been cleared for release.
Members of Witness Against Torture, a group calling for the closure of Guantanamo, started protests early in Washington with the creation of a reproduction Guantanamo cell in front of the White House.
"We plan on being here, in the cage, 24 hours a day until Jan. 11," said Beth Brockman, a human rights advocate and member of the protest from Durham, NC. "We have dubbed Jan. 11 a 'day of national shame.'"
Despite President Barack Obama's 2009 pledge to close Guantanamo by 2010, the Department of Defense has said there are still 173 detainees at the military prison. The last prisoner to leave the facility was Saiid Farhi, who was transferred to the Algerian government on Jan. 6. He was ordered released Nov. 19, 2009.
"We are now stuck in a multi-branch quagmire, where no arm of government is willing to act to end Guantanamo's blight on our reputation and our security," the ACLU said.
Pushback from members of Congress and legislators has kept the prison open despite the fact that Obama has highlighted his continued commitment to closing Guantanamo. A statement given Monday from the Department of State again reiterated this goal.
Despite the promise, Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 31, 2011, which contained a provision to extend a 2011 ban on transferring Guantanamo detainees to the United States.
Guantanamo was first opened in its current form under the George W. Bush administration in 2002. During Bush's presidency, more than 500 prisoners were moved from the detention center, according to PolitiFact. The Department of State has said that only 67 detainees have left the prison since the Obama administration started in 2008.
The detention center has been criticized for a number of alleged incidents of prisoner abuse and for refusing to let human rights groups, including the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, conduct thorough reviews of the institution.
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