London – Today marks 21 years since the first prisoners of the American led War on Terror arrived at Guantanamo Bay. Nearly 800 prisoners would enter what has been described as the ‘gulag of our times’ to be subjected to unspeakable horrors, and spend years, in some cases decades, held without trial or charge. 

The tally is stark, 9 prisoners died in Guantanamo, 706 were released, 20 have been cleared for release but remain therein. Through the Guantanamo Military Commission, which have been described as ‘illegal’ and ‘kangaroo courts’, 12 prisoners have been charged and 2 convicted. 3 prisoners will be held indefinitely.

President Biden, like his Democrat predecessor President Obama, promised to close down the facility. His term has seen a return, though slow, to releasing prisoners after President Trump had vetoed any attempt to release prisoners during his presidency. 

Guantanamo remains an integral part of the legacy of the global War on Terror, and an icon of the Islamophobia inherent within it. Guantanamo only ever held Muslim men. Guantanamo will close down, but its broader impact on the ‘Guantanamoisation’ of legal systems across the globe will remain.[1]


Moazzam Begg, former Guantanamo prisoner and CAGE Outreach Director said:

“Few symbols of US injustice have lingered like Guantanamo. This week, the world’s most infamous prison turns 21 and the inmates therein – held mostly without charge or trial – face another agonising year of abuse. This anniversary marks the coming of age of torture and false imprisonment. That age must come to an end – now.”

Mansoor Adayfi, a former Guantanamo prisoner of 14 years and CAGE’s Guantanamo Project Coordinator said:

“Guantanamo turns 21 today and 35 men remain there. For years, prisoners, activists, lawyers, journalists & NGOs have tried to write Guantanamo’s final chapter, one that ends with justice, accountability and reconciliation. It’s time to close Guantanamo.”



Image courtesy of Sabri Muhammad Al Qurashi 

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)