Prisoners on Hunger Strike at Guantanamo

Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay continue their hunger strike into a third month.

“Criminal defense attorney Marjorie Cohn shares this account by Guantánamo detainee Yousef Al Shehri, detailed in a statement by attorney Julia Tarver:

“Yousef was the second detainee to have an NG [nasal gastric] tube inserted into his nose and pushed all the way down his throat and into his stomach, a procedure which caused him great pain. Yousef was given no anesthesia or sedative for the procedure; instead, two soldiers restrained him – one holding his chin while the other held him back by his hair, and a medical staff member forcefully inserted the tube in his nose and down his throat. Much blood came out of his nose. Yousef said he could not speak for two days after the procedure; he said he felt like a piece of metal was inside of him. He said he could not sleep because of the severe pain.

“When Yousef and others ‘vomited up blood, the soldiers mocked and cursed at them, and taunted them with statements like ‘look what your religion has brought you,’  Tarver wrote.

“She notes that the feeding continued for two weeks and, after pausing for a few days, the guards began to insert larger, thicker tubes— ‘the thickness of a finger.’ According to Tarver, these tubes ‘were viewed by the detainees as objects of torture.'”  Read the full article here.

Adel Bin Ahmed Bin Ibrahim Hkiml, another prisoner on hunger strike for at least 43 days there, is said to have attempted suicide.  What has happened to him is not clear, though his death has not been reported by US officials.  Cori Crider, the legal director of Reprieve, according to an account on Huffington Post that you can read here, says she has not heard from him and that fellow prisoners do not know where he is, much less how he is doing.

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More about Adel Hakimi,  a variant on the name of Adel Bin Ahmed Bin Ibrahim Hkiml:

According to Andy Worthington, Adel Hakimi, a Tunisian, went to Pakistan to marry and was living in Jalalabad in Afghanistan which is near Pakistan and close to his wife’s family when the US invaded.  The US claims that he was at a military training camp near there, but there is no evidence that he was and he has always denied any involvement with al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

When the US invaded, he tried to get to Pakistan and was seized at the border and sold for bounty as so many people, especially Arabs, who were fleeing the US violence were, eventually arriving in Guantanamo.

Before he went to Pakistan, he had worked in Italy as a chef’s assistant at a number of hotels in Bologna and lived among the Italians whom he said treated him “as a brother”.  This European stay involved him a plan that never materialized to send him to Belgium, where he had been tried in abstentia based on US accusations, which have never been substantiated.

Adel Hakimi was, like so many of these prisoners still languishing in Guantanamo today, cleared for release during the Bush regime, which challenged that decision and the Obama regime continues to refuse to release him.  A hunger strike is the only way these prisoners have to resist.   The US, with disregard for international law and US laws against torture, brutally force feeds them.  More from Andy Worthington about this strike.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee says that violent force feeding of prisoners is torture.  The International Committee of the Red Cross guidelines also state that under no circumstances should doctors participate in force feeding of prisoners because it can be considered torture.

From Lauren McCauley:

“Lawyers representing the hunger striking prisoners say that most of the 166 prisoners being held are participating in the strike which began around February 6. Though the military only acknowledges 42 of those individuals as ‘hunger strikers,’ they reported that, of those, 11 were being force fed, according to detention center spokesman Navy Capt. Robert Durand.”  Read the full account here.

US tax payer money provides the staff, equipment, and all resources of the prison at Guantanamo where these crimes against humanity are committed.  What are we doing to make it clear that we are not complicit in this ongoing torture and indefinite detention of men?  The lawyers I have heard and whose words I have read say again and again that the prisoners are not tried because the US has no case against them. The only just thing to do, then, is release them with reparations and abject apologies to them, their families, and the world.  Fair and just trials of all the US officials who have had any part in this atrocity must also take place in order to hold them accountable.  What are we doing to bring these just actions about?

 

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