[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 Presidents 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
Obamas 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 Americas Illegal Prison.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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