In a statement released by Reprieve, the British human rights organization, Guantanamo hunger strikers directly addressed Obama, saying,
Under his existing powers, Obama could order an authorisation to be signed immediately that would allow prisoners cleared for release to be transferred out of the prison at once. Another detainee, Nabil Hadjarab - who has been cleared for release since 2007 - takes issue with the President's previous claims that Congress prevents him from taking action: “You say that Congress gives you no power? Are you not the President? In the end, the last word is yours,” he says.
Continue reading the press release from Reprieve.
Who are the men featured in The New York Times ad?
Shaker Aamer is the last remaining British resident at Guantanamo. He was been cleared for release in 2007 (read the Department of Defense documents stating he is cleared for release). He has long been an advocate for his rights and the rights of other prisoners at Guantanamo. Read his words:
“I have been deprived of everything but my life. So that’s the only decision I have left: to live or to die.”
Listen to PJ Harvey's song “Shaker Aamer”
Read about his legal case at reprieve.org.uk.
Find out more about Shaker at saveshaker.org.
Adnan Latif died in September 2012, having been cleared for release three times, twice under reviews conducted by the Bush administration and once in 2009 (read the Department of Defense documents stating he was cleared for release). His poem was included in the collection Poems from Guantanamo, published in 2007:
They are artists of torture,
They are artists of pain and fatigue,
They are artists of insults and humiliation.
Where is the world to save us from torture?
Where is the world to save us from the fire and sadness?
Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?
Watch a short documentary about his death and the return of his body to his family by Laura Poitras for The New York Times:
Reuters’ reporter also spoke to Bandar al-Qatta’a about his brother Mansour (ISN 566, also cleared for release). He said that his brother “had joined the hunger strike because he lost hope of being freed after a decade in jail without trial,” as Reuters put it. In his own words, Bandar, “a Saudi-born Yemeni who campaigns for the inmates,” said, “We hope human conscience will move to help us secure their release. Those people have never been convicted of any crime.”
Muieen A Deen Abd al Fusal Abd al Sattar, citizen of the United Arab Emirates, like most detainees, was never charged with any crime. As Andy Worthington notes, not much is known about al Sattar, but his name is on the 2012 list of detainees cleared for release.
Musa’ab al Madhwani is a citizen of Yemen who was tortured in a CIA prison before arriving at Guantanamo. He was called a "model prisoner" by the judge who denied his habeas petition in 2009. In his own Statement in support of emergency motion for humanitarian and life-saving relief Madhwani writes:
“I, and other men here at the prison, feel utterly hopeless. We are being detained indefinitely, without any criminal charges against us, and even the 86 men who have been cleared for realise remain here in the Guantánamo Bay prison.”
Read the Department of Justice documents from 2008 about him.
Adel Bin Ahmed Bin Ibrahim Hkiml is a Tunisian citizen. Andy Worthington writes:
In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Hakeemy’s file was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated November 4, 2007, which repeated a similar recommendation issued on August 11, 2006. However, a transfer recommendation was made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on March 17, 2007 (see PDF, p. 194). In addition, on September 28, 2009, Reuters reported that a list posted in Guantánamo “to let the prisoners know how many from each nation have been judged free to go” included nine Tunisians, and with four subsequently released or transferred to Italian custody, that means that the list must have included the five Tunisians who remain.
Watch interviews with his family in Tunisia (clicking the video below will take you to reprieve.org):
Sanad al Kazimi is a citizen of Yemen. Andy Worthington wrote in 2007:
According to his Personal Representative, he also said, “the Bush doctrine is fascist, but the truth is very important, which was why he wanted to go to the Tribunal,” and stated that, “when he gets out, he wants to stay in Cuba, and doesn’t want to go back to Yemen. He wants to raise chickens, but the way the government is, he stated he’s fearful the chickens would be considered enemy combatants as well.” His representative added, “He told me he had always told the same consistent story, and that the evidence generated was not logical...”
...he was “suspended by his arms for long periods, causing his legs to swell painfully … It’s so traumatic, he can barely speak of it. He breaks down in tears.” He also said that al-Kazimi “claimed that, while hanging, he was beaten with electric cables,” and explained that he also told him that, while in the “Dark Prison,” he “attempted suicide three times, by ramming his head into the walls”: “He did it until he lost consciousness. Then they stitched him back up. So he did it again. The next time he woke up, he was chained, and they’d given him tranquillizers. He asked to go to the bathroom, and then he did it again.” On this last occasion, Kassem added, he “was given more tranquillizers, and chained in a more confining manner...
Abdul Khaliq Al Baidhani is a citizen of Yemen. He was originally cleared for release in 2006. Obama has declared that no Yemenis can return home, even if cleared for release.
Force-feeding is torture.
Carlos Warner, attorney for several prisoners, describes the process.
What the force-feeding room looks like (photo by @jasonleopold):
Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a Yemeni prisoner, wrote the following account for The New York Times on April 14, 2013 in Gitmo is Killing Me:
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping.
There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.
During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not.
It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me. As they were finishing, some of the “food” spilled on my clothes. I asked them to change my clothes, but the guard refused to allow me to hold on to this last shred of my dignity.
The hunger strikers are prepared to die.
Guantanamo attorney Candace Gorman talks about her client, Al-Ghizzawi, saying he is writing his will, describing his torture, and saying goodbye to his family. Click to watch the video on witnesstoguantanamo.com.
Want to learn more?
Search investigative journalist Andy Worthington's site. Andy wrote the definitive book on Guantanamo, The Guantanamo Files, and was one of the makers of the film Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.
The numbers on Guantanamo speak for themselves. Figures via Avaaz:
- Detainees in Guantanamo now: 166
- Detainees facing active charges: 6
- Detainees cleared for immediate release, but stuck in the camp: 86
- Guantanamo inmates on hunger strike: 103
- Hunger strikers strapped down and force fed: 30
- Prisoners who have died in custody: 9
- Children the US has held at Guantanamo: 21
- Detainees tried in civilian court: 1
- "Unreleasable" detainees who can't be tried for lack of evidence or torture: 50
- Prisoners released by the Bush administration: 500+
- Prisoners released by the Obama administration: 72
- Current annual cost to US taxpayers: $150 million
- Days since Obama first pledged to close Gitmo: 1579
- Days since first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo: 11 years, 4 months, 11 days