Protestors on Pennsylvania Avenue

Feb 2, 2009 2:42pm

ABC News’ Yunji de Nies reports: From the day President Barack Obama took office, a group of demonstrators has been silently protesting the plight of the Uighurs (Chinese Muslims) held at Guantanamo Bay. About a dozen men and women from "Witnesses Against Torture" meet every weekday at 11 a.m. dressed in orange jumpsuits, their faces covered with black hoods, and spend the next two hours walking up and down Pennsylvania Avenue.   Seventeen Uighers have been held at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo for nearly seven years. Last October, a U.S. District Court judge ruled their imprisonment unlawful and ordered their release. The Bush Administration appealed, leaving the Uighers in legal limbo. While they are no longer considered "enemy combatants," return to their native China would almost certainly result in their persecution, torture or even death. "The next best step to ending the nightmare of Guantanamo is to release these people in the United States," said Witnesses Against Torture’s Carmen Trotta. "There is a Uigher community here in the Washington area that would receive them, give them housing." On his first day in office, President Obama signed an executive order, calling for the island prison to be shut down within one year and suspending military tribunals for six months. Trotta’s group wants the prison closed within the first 100 days of Obama’s presidency, and he plans to continue the organization’s campaign outside the White House through that time period. Trotta says the protestors have been well received, though, "there are some people who will walk by and say, ‘Kill them all,’" he said. Tomorrow, they will take their "solemn procession" from the White House to the Justice Department, where Eric Holder is expected to be sworn in as attorney general. — Yunji de Nies Photo by ABC News’ Sunlen Miller

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