Close Guantanamo

Guantánamo hunger-striker numbers have fallen below 100, army claims

The Guardian – By Matt Williams – July 13, 2013

Lawyers sceptical over news that 96 prisoners remain on strike, down from a recent high of 106

The number of Guantánamo Bay inmates on hunger strike has begun to fall, with most having consumed at least one meal over a 24-hour period, the US military suggested in comments that met with suspicion from detainee advocates. As of Saturday, 96 prisoners were still classified as hunger strikers – down six from Friday and below a recent high of 106.

In a further apparent indication that the five-month-long action may be ebbing, an army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sam House, said on Friday that over a 24-hour period 99 of the then 102 detainees taking part on the strike had eaten a meal. Forty-five, however, remain on the force-feed list and lawyers for some of those taking part in the strike suggested that authorities had consistently under-counted the true number of those refusing meals.

Guards at Guantánamo require several days of sustained eating of minimal caloric intake before prisoners are taken off the list of hunger-strikers. …

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Starving for Justice

The victims in Guantanamo Bay are prisoners who are indefinitely detained, tortured & have been on hunger strike since February 6 2013.

The Season of Death at Guantánamo – June 9, 2013

Exactly seven years ago, on June 9, 2006, three prisoners – all long-term hunger strikers – died at Guantanamo, allegedly by committing suicide. Other long-term hunger strikers died in the same two-week period in 2007 and 2009. Today I remember these men, and call yet again for the release of prisoners from Guantanamo, where another hunger strike is raging, now in its fifth month.

Seven years ago, late in the evening on June 9, 2006, three prisoners — Ali al-Salami, a Yemeni, and Mani al-Utaybi and Yasser al-Zahrani, both Saudis — died at Guantánamo, in what was described by the authorities as a triple suicide, although that explanation seemed to be extremely dubious at the time, and has not become more convincing with the passage of time. …

Seven years ago, late in the evening on June 9, 2006, three prisoners — Ali al-Salami, a Yemeni, and Mani al-Utaybi and Yasser al-Zahrani, both Saudis — died at Guantánamo, in what was described by the authorities as a triple suicide, although that explanation seemed to be extremely dubious at the time, and has not become more convincing with the passage of time. … ↓ ↓ Show more ↓ ↓

US military asks for $450mn Gitmo upgrade despite Obama’s shutdown vow

PressTV – May 22, 2013

The US military has asked the nation’s Congress for over 450 million dollars to upgrade and maintain its notorious prison and torture camp at Guantanamo Bay despite renewed claims by President Barack Obama to shut down the facility. …

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Britain’s Got Compassion

Round-Up of Actions Held in the UK on 17-19 May to mark 100 Days of the Guantánamo Hunger Strike

London Guantánamo Campaign – May 20, 2013

The current hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay entered its 100th day on Friday 17 May. This went largely unnoticed by the mainstream media in the UK. The mainstream media also often overlooks news that presents the public in a positive light and demonstrates acts of solidarity and kindness.

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Obama to speak on Gitmo, drones

The Nation – May 20, 2013

US President Barack Obama plans to lay out on Thursday his administration’s evolving counterterrorism policies, from the controversial use of drones to efforts to close the notorious US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a White House official has said. …

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Terry C. Holdbrooks, Jr. had a lot of expectations from joining the military. He hoped to become a better American, a better soldier, a better person. He would never have thought, in his wildest atheist dreams, that he would become a Muslim. “Traitor?” is the book he has written about the story of an American soldier’s journey to Islam having found it in the ‘armpit of the world’, Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


A Darkening Cloud Hangs Over Guantanamo

Huffington Post – By Peter Jan Honigsberg – May 1, 2013

President Obama said at his news conference yesterday, “I continue to believe that we’ve got to close Guantanamo.” He then added, “Congress determined that they would not let us close it.”

Unfortunately, the president’s comments are misleading. … Read more:

After Obama Shuns Probe, Bipartisan Panel Finds “Indisputable” Evidence US Tortured Under Bush

TruthOut – By Nermeen Shaikh and Amy Goodman – April 18, 2013

An independent bipartisan task force has concluded that it is “indisputable” the United States engaged in torture and the George W. Bush administration bore responsibility.


Guantanamo detainees remain in limbo

Detainees in the US’s Guantanamo Bay detention centre remain locked up, despite more than half of them being cleared for released. Now inmates are protesting at their continued detention.

US torture of prisoners is ‘indisputable’, independent report finds

The Guardian – By Ian Cobain – April 16, 2013

A report on the US rendition programme by a non-partisan thinktank finds that highest officials were responsible for torture …


Clash over hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay

Journal Review – Associted Press – April 18, 2013

Guards clashed Saturday with prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay prison as the military sought to move hunger strikers out of a communal section of the detention center on the U.S. base in Cuba, officials said.

The confrontation occurred after the commander decided to move prisoners into single, solid-walled cells so that prison authorities could monitor them more closely during a hunger strike, the military said in a statement.

The statement from the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the prison on the base in Cuba, said prisoners fought back with improvised weapons and guards fired four “less-than-lethal rounds,” to quell the disturbance. The military said there were no major injuries.

Lawyers for detainees denounced the action, saying the prison commander should have sought to negotiate an end to the hunger strike, which the men began in February to protest their indefinite confinement and what they said were intrusive searches of their Qurans.

“This is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing,” said Carlos Warner, a federal public defender in Ohio. “Instead, the military is escalating the conflict.” …

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Gitmo prisoner: ‘We all died when Obama indefinitely detained us’ – March 27, 2103

The situation is getting desperate in Guantanamo with many of the hunger striking inmates prepared to die, federal public defender Carlos Warner told RT, stressing that his client is calling on the Obama administration to either ‘respect or kill’ them. ..

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Men live in Guantanamo animal cages, will never get trials

RT – March 24, 2013

The Guantanamo Bay hunger strike has entered its 47th day, with no end in sight. According to the prison’s Director of Public Affairs, 26 inmates are refusing food, with eight detainees receiving enteral sustenance.

The situation has alarmed Lt. Col Barry Wingard, a US military attorney who advocates for Guantanamo detainees.

Wingard spoke to RT about the future of Guantanamo Bay’s 166 detainees. …

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Guantanamo Hunger Strike Continues – No Legal Basis for Holding Prisoners Cleared of Crimes

Michael Ratner: The Obama Admin. is responsible for the continued imprisonment of 86 men who were found not to have been involved in any crime or act of war.

Andy Worthington Discusses the Guantánamo Hunger Strike on Press TV

To recap briefly on the situation at Guantánamo, it is clear that, for the last six weeks, over 100 of the remaining 166 prisoners — and perhaps as many as 130 — have been refusing meals, in protest at deteriorating conditions at the prison, including aggressive cell searches, the seizure of their possessions and correspondence (including supposedly confidential correspondence with their attorneys), and mistreatment of their copies of the Koran.

However, it is also clear that one of the main drivers of the hunger strike is the despair induced by eleven years of imprisonment without charge or trial, with no end to the prisoners’ ordeal in sight, after President Obama failed to fulfill his promise to close the prison, and abandoned the men. …

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As Gitmo Prisoners Revolt, Obama Admin Challenged on Indefinite Detention at OAS Hearing

Democracy Now – March 13, 2103

As more than 100 Guantánamo Bay prisoners enter the fifth week of their hunger strike, the Obama administration has defended their detention at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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Obama promised to close Guantánamo. Instead, he’s made it worse

The Guardian – By Murtaza Hussain – March 6, 2013

Facing deteriorating conditions and the hopelessness of their legal abyss, detainees are starving themselves in protest.

The majority of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay are currently on hunger strike to protest the prison conditions and the legal limbo of their position.

In his letters, Guantánamo Bay prisoner Shaker Aamer appeals in desperation to his captors and the outside world:

“Please … torture me in the old way. Here they destroy people mentally and physically without leaving marks.”

The 44-year-old British resident and father of four has spent over 11 years incarcerated at Guantánamo despite being cleared for release as early as 2007. To this day never charged with a crime, Aamer is just one of hundreds of detainees who remain imprisoned in Guantánamo. Despite running on an explicit campaign promise to shut down the island prison which has become a symbol of the abuses of the “war on terror”, President Obama has continued to preside over its operation.

And by recent accounts, under his tenure, the conditions for prisoners there – from both a physical and legal standpoint – have become markedly worse.

This past month, the majority of prisoners at Guantánamo began a hunger strike in protest of alleged mistreatment at the hands of guards at the facility. According to lawyers for over a dozen men involved in the protest, after weeks of refusing food, their clients are “coughing blood, losing consciousness and becoming weak and fatigued”. At least five men are reportedly being strapped down by guards and force-fed through their nostrils – an excruciatingly painful procedure that the UN Human Rights Commission has said it considers to be torture.

For the prisoners, the overwhelming majority of whom have never been charged with a crime and over 50 of whom have been cleared for release for years, this represents their last desperate avenue to protest their fate. Under President Obama’s tenure, the Kafkaesque legal nightmare of detainees such as these has become even more entrenched. …

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Lawyers for Guantanamo prisoners say most on hunger strike; US military says it’s not true

Washington Post – By Associated Press – March 5, 2013

Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay prisoners said Monday that a widespread hunger strike was under way over deteriorating conditions, but a prison spokesman denied there was any mass protest at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Attorneys for more than a dozen of the prisoners said in a letter to the prison commander, Rear Adm. John Smith, and released to the media that “all but a few men” have been on hunger strike for three weeks. They said the situation “appears to be rapidly deteriorating and reaching a potentially critical level.”

The lawyers said the protest was prompted by a series of searches that began on Feb. 6 in which a number of personal items, including religious CDs, blankets and legal mail, were confiscated, and included what they felt were overly intrusive searches of their Qurans by Arabic translators that amounted to desecration.

“As their health has deteriorated, we have received reports of men coughing up blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued, and being moved to Camp V for observation,” the lawyers wrote, referring to a camp that is used in part to hold men who violate prison rules. …

The U.S. holds about 166 men at the prison. …

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Listening Device Used to Eavesdrop at Guantanamo Made in California

Truthout – By Jason Leopold – March 1, 2013

Listening devices found at a camp at Guantanamo where defense attorneys meet with five high-value prisoners accused of planning the 9/11 attacks are manufactured by a Van Nuys, California, company that specializes in high-tech audio surveillance and monitoring equipment for the security industry.

Lawyers who defend high-value terror suspects detained at Guantanamo have for years alleged their privileged communications have been monitored when they meet with their clients. The attorney client meeting area is located at a part of the prison called Echo II, which is made up of about eight meeting huts and used to be maintained by the CIA. But the lawyers never had any proof to support their suspicions until recently.

Cheryl Bormann, a defense attorney for Walid Bin Attash, a Yemeni who is accused of training some of the 9/11 hijackers, revealed during a military commission hearing two weeks ago that what she thought was a smoke detector mounted to the ceiling in one of the meeting rooms at Echo II was actually a microphone, specifically, a Louroe “Verifact A” microphone that can pick up sounds from 15 feet away. It had been in the meeting room for at least a year, the prison’s lawyer testified. …

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Ex-Gitmo Prosecutor: Obama’s Drone Surge as Damaging as Bush Torture Program

‘Six of one and half a dozen of another’
Common Dreams
By Jon Queally
February 1, 2013

Retired Air Force Col. Morris “Moe” Davis, once the lead government prosecutor for terrorism suspects at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, says that the US torture regime under Bush and now the drone assassination program run by the Obama administration have combined to make the world less safe and called both programs—whether they could be legally justified or not—”immoral.”

“We are not the shining city on the hill,” Davis told the small crowd gathered at Johnston Community College in North Carolina on Thursday night. “If we’re the country we claim to be, we’ve got to get back to the values we claim to represent. Regardless of whether it’s illegal, it’s immoral.”

“War is hell. But the rule of law makes it a little less hellish,” Davis added.

The talk was part of a series given by Davis this week in which he lectured at several North Carolina colleges with the message that the United States’ use of torture, secret detention and extraordinary rendition imperils the reputation of the country while also putting its own soldiers at increased risk of mistreatment in the future. …

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Gitmo open four years after Obama promised to close it

Published on 22 Jan 2013

It was four years ago to the day that President Obama vowed to close the secretive prison known as Guantanamo Bay. During the Obama administration’s first term, the site has grown and Obama has signed legislation that would restrict his power to shutdown the venue. Many critics say that the interrogation techniques that occur at Gitmo are torture and demand the president’s promise to close the facility be fulfilled. Retired Colonel Morris Davis and Neil McCabe, senior writer for Human Events Online, discuss the future of Guantanamo Bay.

Andy Worthington tells President Obama to close Guantánamo, January 11, 2013.

Andy Worthington of “Close Guantánamo” calls for the closure of Guantánamo in a speech outside the White House on January 11, 2013.

The 166 prisoners still held in Guantánamo have been failed by all three branches of the U.S. government, and of pressing concern for campaigners, as the 12th year of operations begins at Guantánamo, is the fate of the 86 men who were cleared for release by the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established after taking office. The Task Force spent a year reviewing the prisoners’ cases before reaching its sober and considered conclusions, and, in addition, some of these men were actually cleared by military review boards under the Bush administration, some as long ago as 2004.

However, they remain held either because they are Yemenis, regarded as an unprecedented terrorist threat — despite being cleared — since Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a failed underwear bomber, was apprehended on a U.S.-bound plane three years ago and it was discovered that he had been recruited in Yemen, or because they are from countries where they face the risk of torture if repatriated and no countries have been found that are prepared to rehouse them, or simply because Congress has passed legislation designed to prevent any prisoner being released to any country that lawmakers regard as a threat.

As I explained in my speech outside the White House on the anniversary last week, which is posted [above] (and was filmed by the Baltimore-based activist Bill Hughes), continuing to hold men who were cleared for release makes the U.S. worse than a dictatorship that arbitrarily throws people in a dungeon and then throws away the key. Indefinite detention — the heart of the unacceptable regime at Guantánamo — is a disgrace, but establishing a review process and then ignoring it is a particularly cruel form of added injustice. …

Andy Worthington

Close Guantanamo

To see more video, comments and photos from the Close Gauntanamo campaign click the image on the left.

The panel discussion at the New America Foundation, featuring Andy and Tom Wilner (the steering committee of “Close Guantánamo”) and Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions at Guantánamo, who has been a powerful critic of Guantánamo since his resignation in 2007:

January 11, 2013 will mark 11 years since the United States opened the Guantánamo Bay Detention Center. Almost 800 suspected militants have been held at the prison in that time. Despite the White House’s refrain that the administration “remains committed to closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay,” 166 individuals still remain incarcerated. Has the Obama administration de facto embraced a policy of indefinite detention without trial?