Last updated: 17 June, 2013

Demonstrations demand Obama free Yemenis held in Guantanamo

Relatives of Yemenis being held at the US Guantanamo Bay detention centre protested outside Washington’s mission in Sanaa on Monday, calling on US President Barack Obama to free the detainees.

“Freedom, freedom for the detainees!,” chanted dozens of protesters, some dressed in orange — the colour of jumpsuits worn by Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Four American activists, including anti-war activist Madea Benjamin, took part in the demonstration, an AFP reporter said.

Yemeni inmates, in all 84, represent the majority of the 166 detainees still held in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Fifty-six Yemenis have been cleared for release.

Most detainees were seized more than a decade ago.

Obama in May repeated a pledge to close the detention centre.

Repatriations to Yemen were halted after a Nigerian man trained in Yemen tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on a flight to Detroit in the United States on Christmas Day 2009.

The incident triggered fears that returned detainees could join radical movements, as was the case with a number of Yemeni detainees allowed to return home before 2009.