[Ppnews] Guantánamo Prisoners Stage Hunger Strike on 10th Anniversary of the Prison

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jan 11 09:54:33 EST 2012

Prisoners Stage Peaceful Protest and Hunger 
Strike on 10th Anniversary of the Opening of the Prison

Tuesday, 10 January 2012 15:07



Today, prisoners at Guantánamo will embark on a 
peaceful protest, involving sit-ins and hunger 
strikes, to protest about their continued 
detention, and the continued existence of the 
prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, three years after 
President Obama came to office promising to close 
it within a year, and to show their appreciation 
of the protests being mounted on their behalf  by 
US citizens, who are gathering in Washington D.C. 
on Wednesday to 
a rally and march to urge the President to fulfill his broken promise.

Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at the City 
University of New York, and one of the attorneys 
Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, 
said that his client, who is held in isolation in 
Camp 5, told him on his last visit that the 
prisoners would embark on a peaceful protest and 
hunger strike for three days, from Jan. 10 to 12, 
to protest about the President’s failure to close Guantánamo as promised.

He explained that the men intended to inform the 
Officer in Charge ahead of the protest, to let 
the authorities know why there would be protests, 
and added that the prisoners were encouraged by 
the “expression of solidarity” from US citizens 
planning protests on Jan. 11, the 10th 
anniversary of the opening of the prison.

Kassem also said that another of his clients, in 
Camp 6, where most of the prisoners are held, and 
where, unlike Camp 5, they are allowed to 
socialize, stated that prisoners throughout the 
blocks were “extremely encouraged” by reports of 
the protests in Washington D.C.

The prisoner, who does not wish to be identified, 
also said that banners and signs had been 
prepared, and that there would be peaceful 
sit-ins in the communal areas. He added that the 
prisoners were concerned to let the outside world 
know that they still reject the injustice of 
their imprisonment, and feel that it is 
particularly important to let everyone know this, 
when the US government, under President Obama, is 
trying to persuade the world that “everything is 
OK” at Guantánamo, and that the prison is a humane, state of the art facility.

He also explained that the prisoners invited the 
press to come to Guantánamo and to request 
interviews with the prisoners, to hear about “the 
toll of a decade” of detention without charge or 
trial, and said that they “would like nothing 
more” than to have an independent civilian and 
medical delegation, accompanied by the press, be 
allowed to come and talk to the 171 men still held.

In Camp 5, Shaker Aamer and the other men still 
held there will not be able to stage a sit-in, as 
they are unable to leave their cells, but they 
will participate in the protests by refusing meals.

No one knows how the authorities will respond to 
the protests, especially as the new commander of 
Guantánamo, Navy Rear Adm. David Woods, has 
gained a reputation for punishing even the most 
minor infractions of the rules with solitary confinement.

According to Kassem, prisoners have complained 
that the new regime harks back to the worst days 
of Guantánamo, between 2002 and 2004, when 
punishments for non-cooperation were widespread.

Of the 171 men still held at Guantánamo, 
were “approved for transfer” out of Guantánamo by 
a Task Force of career officials and lawyers from 
the various government departments and the 
intelligence agencies, and yet they remain held 
because of Congressional opposition and President 
Obama’s unwillingness to tackle his critics. 36 
others were recommended for trials, and 46 others 
were designated for indefinite detention without 
charge pr trial, on the basis that they are too 
dangerous to release, but that there is 
insufficient evidence against them to put them on trial.

That is a disgraceful position for the government 
to take, as indefinite detention on the basis of 
information that cannot be used as evidence 
indicates that the information is either tainted 
by torture, or is unreliable hearsay. It remains 
unacceptable that President Obama approved the 
indefinite detention of these men in 
executive order last March, even though he also 
promised that their cases would be subject to periodic review.

Just as disgraceful, however, is the fact that 
all of the 171 prisoners still at Guantánamo face 
indefinite detention, as none of them can leave 
the prison given the current restrictions. That 
ought to trouble anyone who cares about justice 
and fairness, and the protests by the prisoners, 
on the 10th anniversary of the opening of 
Guantánamo, ought to convey, more eloquently than 
any other method, why the pressure to close the prison must be maintained.

Note: For further information, to sign up to  a 
new movement to close G, and to sign a new White 
House petition on the “We the People” website 
calling for the closure of Guantánamo, visit the 
new website, “<http://www.closeguantanamo.org/>Close Guantánamo.”

Andy Worthington is the author of 
Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison.

Freedom Archives
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