[Ppnews] US steps up efforts to break Guantánamo hunger strike

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Jun 23 12:39:10 EDT 2013

  US steps up efforts to break Guantánamo hunger strike

Shaker Aamer, last British resident held in camp, tells of harsh regime 
to break strikers' resistance

      Mark Townsend <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/marktownsend>,
      home affairs editor
    * The Observer <http://observer.guardian.co.uk>, Saturday 22 June
      2013 07.29 EDT


Increasingly brutal tactics are being used in an attempt to break the 
hunger strike by detainees at Guantánamo Bay 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/guantanamo-bay>, according to fresh 
testimony from the last British resident still held in the camp.

Shaker Aamer 
claims that the US authorities are systematically making the regime more 
hardline to try to defuse the strike, which now involves almost 
two-thirds of the detainees. Techniques include making cells "freezing 
cold" to accentuate the discomfort of those on hunger strike and the 
introduction of "metal-tipped" feeding tubes 
which Aamer said were forced into inmates' stomachs twice a day and 
caused detainees to vomit over themselves.

The 46-year-old from London tells of one detainee who was admitted to 
hospital 10 days ago after a nurse had pushed the tube into his lungs 
rather than his stomach, causing him later to cough up blood. Aamer also 
alleges that some nurses at Guantánamo Bay 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/guantanamo-bay>are refusing to wear 
their name tags in order to prevent detainees registering abuse 
complaints against staff.

Speaking last week from the camp in Cuba 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/cuba>, exactly four months after he 
joined the hunger strike, Aamer said: "The administration is getting 
ever more angry and doing everything they can to break our hunger 
strike. Honestly, I wish I was dead."

The momentum behind efforts to release Aamer -- who has spent more than 
11 years without trial inside the camp -- mounted sharply last week with 
David Cameron raising the issue directly with the US president, Barack 
the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

On Wednesday, in a response to a parliamentary question about what had 
been discussed by the two leaders, Cameron revealed that his next step 
would be to write to Obama about the "specifics of the case and 
everything that we can do to expedite it". He added: "Clearly, President 
Obama wants to make progress on this issue and we should help him in 
every way that we can with respect to this individual."

The prime minister's comments are the most positive indication to date 
that Aamer will eventually be freed -- he has been cleared for release 
twice since 2007.

Clive Stafford Smith 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/clivestaffordsmith>, the director of 
the legal charity Reprieve, who passed a transcript of his conversation 
with Aamer to the /Observer/, said: "These gruesome new details show 
just how bad things are in Guantánamo. The whole thing is at breaking 
point. Clearly the US military is under enormous pressure and doing 
everything it can to hurt the men and break the hunger strike."

Although the military initially denied that there was a hunger strike 
inside Guantanámo, 
it now concedes that, of the 166 detainees, 104 are on hunger strike and 
44 are being force-fed.

Aamer also documents his declining health and how the camp's regime 
deliberately inflates the weight of detainees on hunger strike. Aamer, 
who has permission to live in the UK indefinitely because his wife is a 
British national, said: "They said I was 160lb, but I was 154lb a few 
days ago. Unless there has been a miracle, my weight has not gone up 
without eating. But they cheat by adding shackles and sometimes even 
pressing down as they do it to add to your weight.

"If you have a medical standard for when a detainee should be force-fed 
for his own health, then force-feed him when it can still save his 
health. Don't wait until his body is so harmed by the lack of food that 
all you are protecting is the US military -- from the harm of a prisoner 
dying for a principle."

Aamer describes his daily diet at Guantánamo as a cup of tea or two each 
day with a low-calorie sweetener and occasionally an Ocean Spray powder 
mix that has 10 calories -- enough to give an energy boost.

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