[Ppnews] Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Close to Death

Political Prisoner News PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 24 08:47:17 EST 2006

Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 by the London Times / UK
Hunger Strikers Close to Death
by Sarah Baxter

Despite force feeding by the American military, several hunger strikers
at Guantanamo Bay may be close to death, according to lawyers acting
for the detainees.

The condition of two emaciated Yemeni hunger strikers who have been
refusing solid food since August is causing particular concern. There
are also fears for the life of a hospitalised Saudi prisoner.

The wife of a British resident and hunger striker, Shaker Aamer,
visited the Commons last week to appeal to MPs for help. Aamer's wife,
31, who lives in London with her four children and has asked for her
name to be withheld, said: "This is the time to do something. My
husband is not going to last."

Aamer has been on hunger strike since November 2. Although he has lost
weight, he is stronger than some other prisoners taking part in the
protest at their detention without trial.

According to a report to be released tomorrow by the prisoners' rights
group Reprieve, the Yemenis, identified as Abu Bakah al-Shamrani and
Abu Anas, are said by detainees to be gravely weak. Shamrani weighs
only 70lb (5 stone).

Reprieve claims Camp Echo, which is comprised of isolation cells, has
been turned into a "force feeding institution" away from other
prisoners and its gravel path paved with concrete so the hunger
strikers can be moved around in wheelchairs.

The military said last week the number of hunger strikers had declined
to 22 after a peak at Christmas and that 17 were being fed by "tube".

Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy Martin, spokesman for Joint Task Force
Guantanamo, declined to give the number of detainees in hospital and
said the hunger strikers were "malnourished" but "clinically stable".
He denied their lives were at imminent risk.

The US law firm Paul Weiss, which represents three Saudi detainees, has
received increasingly alarming weekly medical reports about the
condition of one of them, who is in the camp hospital.

On a trip to Guantanamo last month, Paul Weiss's lawyers were prevented
from visiting the hospital and told their clients did not wish to see
them. "We are concerned they may be in a life-threatening condition,"
said one of the lawyers, Jana Ramsay. "They are normally glad to see

The prisoners being force fed have a permanent tube in the nose, which
descends to the stomach and is attached to another tube for feeding. If
they do not rip it out, the US military say they are consenting to be
fed even if the tube was inserted under duress.

Aamer was visited this month by his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, legal
director of Reprieve. In "obvious pain", he pulled his tube out of his
nose so it could be examined. According to Stafford Smith, it was 43in
long and was stained red from having been in Aamer's stomach.

Aamer has vowed to continue his hunger strike until he is given a fair
trial or released. He said in a statement: "The British government
refuses to help me. What is the use of my wife being British?" He said
he held the British government as well as the Americans "responsible
for my death".

Stafford Smith said the "inevitable spectre of a Muslim prisoner dying
on Guantanamo soil will cause greater outrage than even the desecration
of the Koran".

Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.

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