[Ppnews] For Prisoners ‘Abandoned’ In Gitmo ‘Hell,’ Struggle Not Over

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 25 11:06:41 EDT 2013


*For Prisoners ‘Abandoned’ In Gitmo ‘Hell,’ Struggle Not Over*
*At least 18 inmates continue to refuse food; advocates declare 
injustice, torture, unlawful detention remain

*
*By Sarah Lazare <http://www.mintpressnews.com/author/sarahlazare/>* | 
September 25, 2013 
<http://www.mintpressnews.com/prisoners-abandoned-gitmo-hell-struggle/169660/> 

http://www.mintpressnews.com/prisoners-abandoned-gitmo-hell-struggle/169660/

While both military officials at Guantanamo Bay and lawyers for 
prisoners say that the numbers of actively participating hunger strikers 
at the offshore prison have decreased to the point where the 
hunger-strike is no longer considered prison-wide, at least 18 inmates 
continue to refuse food—meaning the hunger strike is not over—and 
conditions for those facing indefinite detention remain dire.

The U.S. military announced Monday it will no longer provide daily 
updates on the ongoing Guantanamo Bay hunger strikes, citing a drop in 
numbers. “Following July 10, 2013, the number of hunger strikers has 
dropped significantly, and we believe today’s numbers represent those 
who wish to continue to strike,” Lt. Col. Samuel E. House, a military 
spokesman in Guantanamo, wrote 
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/23/guantanamo-hunger-strike_n_3975726.html> in 
an email to reporters.

Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global 
Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told /Common 
Dreams/ that the number of strikers does appear to be decreasing, yet 
the count the military provides should always be viewed with caution, 
because the military “doctors them down.” /Al Jazeera/ reports 
<http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/23/us-military-willnolongerissuedailyhungerstrikeupdates.html> that 
several inmates remain on long-term hunger strike since 2007, and 18 
inmates are still 
<http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/23/us-military-ending-gitmo-hunger-strike-updates/2857273/> on 
a force-feeding list, suggesting many continue to refuse food in protest.

While the prison-wide hunger strike is growing smaller, the “reasons for 
it are not,” said Kadidal, noting that several individuals have decided 
to continue their strikes regardless of the dwindling prison-wide 
strikes. “From a year into the Obama administration, people realized 
that the president abandoned any commitment to making changes at 
Guantanamo,” he declared, noting there is no indication of any 
meaningful changes of White House policy to come.

    “The hunger strikes re-focused the entire country, media, and even
    the president on the plight of these guys, a majority of whom are
    cleared for release yet have faced 11-plus years of detention.”
    –Shayana Kadidal, CCR

Kadidal said many of his clients felt they had accomplished their 
primary goal of simply being heard. “The hunger strikes re-focused the 
entire country, media, and even the president on the plight of these 
guys, a majority of whom are cleared for release yet have faced 11-plus 
years of detention,” he said.

Yet, harsh retaliatory measures, in which prison authorities made the 
hunger strikers’ lives “hell,” also played a key role in dwindling the 
number of strikers, Kadidal explained. “[Prison authorities] moved 
people to solitary confinement, force-fed people, imposed genital 
searches for people simply going into a phone booth to call their 
attorneys. They used the hunger strike to impose these measures and made 
it difficult for these men to engage in a relationship with their 
attorneys.”

Prison-wide hunger strikes that began in February have been ongoing 
throughout the year, with over 100 participants 
<http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/07/02-5> refusing to eat for 
extended periods and many undergoing the painful process of being 
force-fed. Over 150 people are still incarcerated at the military prison 
in Cuba that has been widely condemned for inhumane conditions, 
systematic use of torture, and absence of due process for inmates, 
including long-term indefinite detentions without trial or formal 
charges. Half <http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2013/07/11>of all 
inmates have already been cleared for release.

“[H]unger striking is the sole peaceful means that I have to protest my 
indefinite detention,” detainee Ahmed Belbacha previously stated 
<http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/07/02-5>.

-- 
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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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