Guantanamo detainees in protest fast

Dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees have started a new hunger strike at the US detention centre and at least one has written a will in anticipation of starving to death, human rights lawyers say.

    The US is holding some 500 men at the detention centre

    The New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights said the hunger strike began because the US Department of Defence reneged on promises to negotiate with prisoners after a June-July hunger strike that involved up to 200 of the 500-plus men detained at the remote base.

    The military said only 52 prisoners were involved in the first strike, after a released prisoner and lawyers who spoke to detained clients published the news.

    "The DOD is practising dangerous deception," an attorney with the centre, Gitanjali Gutierrez, said in a statement.

    "It hid evidence of the hunger strike and prisoner abuse from visiting senators and the public."
    Spokesmen for the detention mission at Guantanamo could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Legal blackhole

    Detainees want to be charged and brought to trial, or freed. Many have been held for more than three and a half years without charge or access to lawyers. Most were captured in the Afghanistan war, suspected of ties to al-Qaida or the ousted Taliban regime that sheltered the terrorist network.

    Defence officials promised to negotiate with prisoners when "the strike became so widespread that medics could not manage the need and elected to stop making their regular medical calls", and strikers spent 26 days without food, the statement from the New York-based centre said. 

    It quoted imprisoned British resident Shaker Aamer as telling a lawyer that when some of the men refused even water, "the conditions of some prisoners became so critical that the detainee hospital had no more beds and they had to take prisoners into the Navy hospital".

    Desperate detainees

    Mahdis Keshavarz, a spokesman for the centre, said she believed some 200 detainees were currently refusing all meals.
    "Prisoners are now prepared to die in an effort to receive a fair hearing and humane treatment," Gutierrez said. "These men deserve their day in court."

    Lawyers said they did know when exactly the new strike started. The lawyers said that as soon as the first strike ended, on 28 July, mistreatment of prisoners resumed and several prisoners allegedly were beaten by military personnel early in August.

    A Kuwaiti prisoner was "violently assaulted" by the military's Extreme Reaction Force and subjected to psychological abuse, the statement said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    A relatively new independence and fresh waves of conflict inspire a South Sudanese refugee to build antiwar video games.