[Ppnews] ‘Guantanamo hunger strike is prisoners’ only way to reclaim dignity’

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 14 16:11:32 EDT 2013


  ‘Guantanamo hunger strike is prisoners’ only way to reclaim dignity’

March 13, 2013 06:25
http://rt.com/op-edge/gitmo-prisoners-human-rights-181/

The detainee hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay’s maximum-security prison 
is a last-resort cry for help from those who have spent years in custody 
without being charged, and who have no hope of release, anti-war 
activist Sara Flounders told RT.

Most of the 130 terror suspects imprisoned in Camp 6 of Guantanamo Bay 
may be involved in a hunger strike 
<http://rt.com/news/guantanamo-massive-hunger-strike-142/> that started 
in early March. The protest allegedly started after prison 
administrators confiscated inmates' personal belongings, including 
Korans – the overwhelming majority of Guantanamo detainees are devout 
Muslims from the Middle East.

*RT:* /If the abuse the inmates are describing is true, surely there 
must have been a reason? Perhaps repeated transgressions? What do you 
think?/

*Sara Flounders:* Certainly, it is not a valid theory. The treatment in 
Guantanamo from the very first moment that the prisoners were kidnapped 
from the other side of the world and brought to Guantanamo has been 
horrendous.  And it is the organizations such as the Center for 
Constitutional Rights who have fought for the most elementary rights for 
these prisoners. And their hunger strikes are the only way of even 
making themselves heard over years and years without any hope of 
release, without any real charges.

It was a Center for Constitutional Rights study that took the government 
figures to confirm that 92 percent of all the prisoners held in 
Guantanamo really had no connection at all to Al-Qaeda. They were sort 
of bought and sold and brought to Guantanamo as part of the US war on 
terror, justified as part of that war and with no real standing.

And they are really just part of the thousands of prisoners held around 
the world in US secret prisons or in prison ships, secret bases. It is 
an enormous problem and they are also a part of the hundreds of Muslim 
prisoners in the US, who have been held, who have been framed on 
charges, who are held in solitary confinement and special management units.

*RT:* /Why is it only Guantanamo that is talked about when this comes out?/

*SF:* The US’s own publicity, that somehow this US base but off the US 
mainland gave them complete control and out of the hands of US courts. 
So its very existence was a challenge and this is where they claimed 
they were bringing high profile prisoners. But as I say 92 percent of 
them, I don’t know what kind of a failure rate is that, for those with 
no charges, and even those with whom they made specific charges, they’ve 
used all manners of torture, of waterboarding, of isolation and so on 
again and again. This really is really in every aspect a crime.

*RT:* /Is it that nobody there deserves to be there?/

*SF:* The real question is US treatment. No one in the world deserves 
this form of US treatment which has become absolutely routine and 
systematic. That is the use of torture, the use of isolation, 
humiliation, degradation, religious insult - all of this.

*RT:* /So why is it allowed to continue? I’m sure a lot of the American 
public know about it, don’t they?/

*SF:* Well, it is allowed to continue, despite every promise, including 
promises by the Obama administration that the first thing he would do, 
and this was four years ago, was to shut down Guantanamo and of course 
he did not, because there is a big, big interest at stake in this lie, 
that has now been extended into the NDAA and an attack on the rights of 
everyone in the US and people around the world. It extended those who a 
decade ago were kidnapped and put into prisons.

Today they simply fire a drone at them and assassinate whole villages. 
So this is a big extension on attacks on everyone’s rights, dignity. And 
it is important that these prisoners are resisting with the only 
measure, the only thing that they can do is to not eat food in order to 
attract attention to the grievous conditions and the insults that they 
are routinely given.

*RT:* /But where is it going to get them? This is not their first hunger 
strike./

*SF:* Prisoners around the world, and this is true in the Palestinian 
struggle, the Irish struggle, the struggle in South Africa and hear in 
the US know, that a hunger strike, at least maybe a way of reclaiming 
dignity, of showing resistance in the face of overwhelming power and 
that is why, I think, these prisoners have chosen the same tactic. What 
else? They have no other weapon but their own body.

*RT:* /Do you agree with the argument that advocates the existence of 
Guantanamo and that it saves American lives?/

*SF:* No. It is a complete fraud. Because any of the information gained 
through torture and isolation- what kind of information is that? These 
people are held for years and years. And it is an outrage. Guantanamo 
should be shut down, absolutely, and the thousands held in secret 
prisons released - there has to be an account for that.

*RT:* /When do you think it is going to close?/

*SF:* It has to close. And I think the work a number of courageous and 
determined lawyers have done has been exemplary in challenging this 
policy, but it also needs to be a much larger challenge, here in the US 
and around the world, demanding an end to these policies of torture.

-- 
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