[Ppnews] Guantanamo: Death Looms for Inmates Amid Hunger Strikes and Beatings

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 10 11:38:36 EST 2009

Guantanamo on the Brink: Death Looms for Inmates Amid Hunger Strikes 
and Beatings

February 10, 2009 By Mark Townsend
and Paul Harris

Source: Independent UK

Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne Bradley, an American military lawyer, will 
step through the grand entrance of the Foreign and Commonwealth 
Office in London today and demand the release of her client -- a 
British resident who claims he was repeatedly tortured at the behest 
of US intelligence officials -- from Guantanamo Bay. Bradley will 
also request the disclosure of 42 secret documents that allegedly 
chronicle not only how Binyam Mohamed was tortured, but may also 
corroborate claims that Britain was complicit in his treatment.

But first, Bradley, a US military attorney for 20 years, will reveal 
that Mohamed, 31, is dying in his Guantanamo cell and that conditions 
inside the Cuban prison camp have deteriorated badly since Barack 
Obama took office. Fifty of its 260 detainees are on hunger strike 
and, say witnesses, are being strapped to chairs and force-fed, with 
those who resist being beaten. At least 20 are described as being so 
unhealthy they are on a "critical list", according to Bradley.

Mohamed, who is suffering dramatic weight loss after a month-long 
hunger strike, has told Bradley, 45, that he is "very scared" of 
being attacked by guards, after witnessing a savage beating for a 
detainee who refused to be strapped down and have a feeding tube 
forced into his mouth. It is the first account Bradley has personally 
received of a detainee being physically assaulted in Guantanamo.

Bradley recently met Mohamed in Camp Delta's sparse visiting room and 
was shaken by his account of the state of affairs inside the notorious prison.

She said: "At least 50 people are on hunger strike, with 20 on the 
critical list, according to Binyam. The JTF [the Joint Task Force 
running Guantanamo] are not commenting because they do not want the 
public to know what is going on.

"Binyam has witnessed people being forcibly extracted from their 
cell. Swat teams in police gear come in and take the person out; if 
they resist, they are force-fed and then beaten. Binyam has seen this 
and has not witnessed this before. Guantanamo Bay is in the grip of a 
mass hunger strike and the numbers are growing; things are worsening.

"It is so bad that there are not enough chairs to strap them down and 
force-feed them for a two- or three-hour period to digest food 
through a feeding tube. Because there are not enough chairs the 
guards are having to force-feed them in shifts. After Binyam saw a 
nearby inmate being beaten it scared him and he decided he was not 
going to resist. He thought, 'I don't want to be beat, injured or 
killed.' Given his health situation, one good blow could be fatal," 
said Bradley.

"Binyam is continuing to lose weight and he is going to get worse. He 
has been told he is about to be released, but psychologically and 
physically he is declining."

It is conceivable that Mohamed himself may shortly return to London, 
heralding yet another political embarrassment for Foreign Secretary 
David Miliband, who already faces a tumultuous week over claims that 
he was keen to suppress evidence of torture.

On Tuesday, the unprecedented dispute between Miliband and the 
judiciary is set to reignite when High Court judges Lord Justice 
Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones decide whether to reopen the case 
which Mohamed believes substantiates his torture claims.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a little-publicised court case into the 
treatment of Mohamed will open. American civil liberties lawyers are 
hoping to shine a light on the defence firm that allegedly carried 
out the practice of "rendition" on behalf of the CIA. Jeppesen 
Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary, helped to arrange rendition flights 
for several terror suspects, including Mohamed, to nations where they 
claim they were tortured.

The case was originally dismissed after the Bush administration 
asserted "state secrets privilege", indicating that it would endanger 
national security -- the same argument used by Miliband. However, 
Obama has repeatedly stressed his willingness to be less secretive 
than his predecessor and a similar decision would lead to claims that 
the current administration is bent on suppressing evidence of torture.

Closer to home, the Observer has found evidence suggesting a broader 
unwillingness by Britain to confront the US over its war on terror 
program. The Attorney General says it is "actively considering" 
possible criminal wrongdoings against MI5 and the CIA, but sources 
claim the government's senior lawyer has failed, after almost four 
months of looking into the issue, to request material from the US 
that may substantiate allegations of MI5 complicity in Mohamed's torture.

Suspicion is also growing that some sections of the US intelligence 
community would prefer Binyam did die inside Guantanamo. Silenced 
forever, only the sparse language of his diary would be left to 
recount his torture claims and interviewees with an MI5 officer, 
known only as Witness B. Such a scenario would also deny Mohamed the 
chance to personally sue the US, and possibly British authorities, 
over his treatment.

But if Mohamed survives to come back to London, his experiences of 
the past six years promise a harrowing journey through the dark 
underbelly of the war on terror. For Miliband, the questions 
concerning Britain's role may have only just begun.

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