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Medical Emergency at Guantanamo Prison Hunger Strike


April 30, 2013
Al Jazeera & The Miami Herald & Russia Today

The official number of hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay reached 100 on Saturday – three more than the day before. Twenty of the detainees are receiving enteral feeds, five of whom are being observed in a detainee hospital. Lawyers for the detainees contest the official numbers, saying that some 130 prisoners are actually taking part in the protest. The hunger strike began around February 6, when detainees claimed prison officials searched their copies of the Koran.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2013/04/201343013642259861.html

Extra Medical Staff Sent to Guantanamo
Medical personnel sent to US detention camp as nearly two-thirds of the detainees join hunger strike




(April 30, 2013) -- Extra medical staff have been sent to the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay to help address a hunger strike that has spread to nearly two-thirds of the detainees.

Some 40 US Navy medical personnel, including nurses and specialists, arrived over the weekend, said on Monday Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House, a military spokesman at Guantanamo.

"The influx of personnel was planned several weeks ago as increasing numbers of detainees chose to protest their detention," he said.

With the strike now entering its 12th week, President Barack Obama has faced fresh calls to honour his promise to close the prison at the US base in Cuba, which holds 166 individuals captured as part of the "War on Terror."

House said 100 of the 166 inmates are striking, a number that has not changed since Saturday. Of those, 21 are receiving feeding through nasal tubes, the spokesman said, one more than on Saturday.

Growing Anger
Five are hospitalised, he added in the statement, without specifying whether any were in life-threatening condition. Lawyers for the detainees have said around 130 inmates are observing the hunger strike, more than officially acknowledged.

The rapidly growing protest movement began on February 6, when inmates claimed prison officials searched Korans in a way they considered blasphemous, according to their lawyers.

Officials have denied any mishandling of Islam's holy book. But the strike has now turned into a larger protest by prisoners against their indefinite incarceration without charge or trial over the past 11 years.

Calls for Closure
More and more critics have called for the immediate closure of the facility. Among them is former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, Air Force colonel Morris Davis, who warned that "unless President Obama acts soon, I believe it is likely one or more of the detainees will die."

Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel and advocate at Human Rights Watch, said "there has never been such a critical moment in the history of Guantanamo."

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, wrote a letter to Obama asking the administration to "renew its efforts" to transfer out the 86 detainees who were cleared for such a move by US military authorities.

She also called for the reassessment of the "security situation on the ground in Yemen, because is my understanding that 56 of the 86 detainees cleared for transfer are Yemeni."

Obama imposed a moratorium on repatriating Yemenis held at Guantanamo in 2009 after a plot to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day was traced back to Al-Qaeda's Yemeni franchise.



Follow RT's day-by-day timeline on Gitmo hunger strike

Red Cross arrives at Guantanamo as Hunger Strike Hits 100 Mark
Carol Rosenberg / The Miami Herald

(April 27, 2013) -- International Red Cross delegates began inspecting conditions at the Guantanamo prison camps on Saturday, as the US military said the number of hunger strikers had reached 100.

One-fifth of the hunger strikers were being force fed nutritional supplements through feeding tubes, said Army Lt. Col. Samuel House, a prison camps spokesman.

Five of the 20 men being force fed were hospitalized, although none "currently have any life-threatening conditions," House said by email from the remote base in southeast Cuba.

In Washington, International Red Cross spokesman Simon Schorno said five delegates arrived Friday at the Navy base for a "an ad-hoc assessment visit" now that the majority of captives are in single-cell lockdown.

One delegate is a physician, he said, declining to identify the nationalities of any of the team members.

It's the organization's 93rd visit since the prison camps opened in 2002. Schorno said the goal was "to assess the immediate aftermath of that transfer and to monitor the current conditions of detention and treatment there," in light of the lockdown.

"As always, the ICRC will address its findings confidentially and with US authorities only," he said.

The Red Cross arrived as attorneys disclosed the identities of some of the men being force fed at Guantanamo, revealing that at least four of the captives were designated for release years ago.

Prison officials have refused to name any of the hunger strikers. But the Justice Department has been notifying the attorneys of prisoners who have become so malnourished that they now require the tube feedings.

The prison camps in Cuba have been wracked by hunger strikes from the earliest days. The most sustained, widespread known hunger strike took place in 2005 when, according to House, "we had a detainee population of 575 detainees with 142 detainees choosing to hunger strike in July."

On average in July of 2005, he said, 30 detainees were "being enteral fed" -- the Guantanamo term for the process of snaking a tube up a captive's nose, down the back of his throat and into his stomach before pumping in a can of nutritional supplement.


(c) 2013 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.




Official Number of Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strikers Jumps to 100
Russia Today

(April 28, 2013) -- The official number of hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay reached 100 on Saturday – three more than the day before. Twenty of the detainees are receiving enteral feeds, five of whom are being observed in a detainee hospital.

Follow RT's day-by-day timeline on Gitmo hunger strike

Lawyers for the detainees contest the official numbers, saying that some 130 prisoners are actually taking part in the protest. The hunger strike began around February 6, when detainees claimed prison officials searched their copies of the Koran for contraband, according to their attorneys.

Prisoners are also protesting their extrajudicial incarceration at the prison. Most of Guantanamo Bay's 166 detainees have been cleared for release or were never charged, a situation that has prompted criticism from human rights organizations.

"The illegal detentions without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay have gone on for more than a decade with no end in sight, so it's not surprising that detainees feel desperate," counterterrorism advisor at Human Rights Watch, Laura Pitter, said in a statement.

As the number of detainees being fed by tubes continues to grow, so does the criticism surrounding the practice of force-feeding. The Constitution Project, a non-profit group that promotes bipartisan consensus on legal reform, concluded in a recent report that "forced feeding of detainees is a form of abuse and must end." However, Guantanamo authorities have offered a different assessment:
"I refuse to say 'force-feeding.' It refers to a cartoon where individuals are strapped, yelling, screaming, mouth open and food is dumped down the person's throat and that is not the case," Guantanamo spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House said, as quoted by AFP.

"We will continue to prevent people from starving. It is by all means the rights of detainees to protest, however it is our mission to provide a safe, secure and human environment and we will not allow our detainees to starve themselves to death," House added.

Meanwhile, Pitter has urged the Obama administration to do more to end the "unlawful practice that will forever be a black mark on US history."

White House spokesperson Jay Carney argued that Congress is to blame for the failure to close Guantanamo, not the Obama administration.

"The president remains committed to closing the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay," Carney said in a statement. "A fundamental obstacle to closing this detention facility…. remains in Congress."

President Obama pledged to close Guantanamo as he assumed office in 2009. However, he was unable to act on his promise after Congress imposed restrictions on Gitmo detainee transfers.

RT is currently on a waiting list for a media visit to Guantanamo Bay.


Some Force-fed Captives Are Cleared for Release from Guantanamo


(April 26, 2013) -- At least four of the captives being force-fed at Guantanamo were cleared for release years ago. As of Friday, the US prison in southeast Cuba classified 97 of its 166 captives as hunger strikers, according to Army Lt. Col. Samuel House, a prison spokesman. Navy medical workers were administering tube feedings to 19 of the hunger strikers, five of them at the prison hospital.

Prison officials have refused to name any of the hunger strikers. But the Justice Department has been notifying the attorneys of prisoners who have become so malnourished that they now require the tube feedings.

Attorneys for eight of the men notified The Miami Herald of their identities.

One is Mohammed al-Hamiri, a Yemeni man in his 30s whose New York lawyer, Omar Farah, says he was told by the Justice Department that his client is "on hunger strike and is being force fed." Hamiri is also one of 55 men that the Justice Department has named, separately, in federal court filings as eligible for release.

In 2009, the Obama administration assembled a Task Force of representatives from federal agencies, including the CIA, FBI and Pentagon, to examine the files of the detainees brought to Guantanamo during the Bush years.

It concluded that 46 of the 166 men now there should be held indefinitely, without trial or charge.

But it found that 56 were eligible for transfer and another 30 might be eligible for transfer if certain conditions were met. The majority are Yemeni men, like Hamiri, whose transfer has been put on hold by a combination of Congressional restrictions on releases and a White House freeze on transfers in particular to Yemen, which has a fervent al-Qaida franchise called Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Others identified by their attorneys as being force-fed include:

Shaker Aamer, 46, a Saudi-born former British resident whom the Obama administration disclosed last year has been cleared for release

Tariq Ba Awdah, 34, a Yemeni man whose lawyer says he's been on an uninterrupted hunger strike since February 2007. "I haven't tasted food for over six years," he wrote his lawyer, Farah, this week. "The feeding tube has been introduced into my nose and snaked into my stomach thousands and thousands of times." He has never been charged with a crime at Guantanamo's war court, and his status is not known.

Jihad Diyab, 41, a Syrian man whom the Obama administration disclosed last year has been cleared for release.

Nabil Hadjarab, 33, an Algerian man whom the Obama administration disclosed last year has been cleared for release.

Yasin Ismael, in his 30s, a Yemeni man who has never been charged with a crime and whose status is not known

Fayez al Kandari, 35, a Kuwaiti, who at one point was considered for prosecution at the Guantanamo war court.

Samir Mukbel, a Yemeni is in his 30s whose attorney helped him tell his story recently in a column published in The New York Times. His name is not among those the Obama administration has disclosed as cleared for release, and his status is not known.

Hunger strike figures have been rising steadily since April 13, when soldiers stormed inside Guantanamo's showcase communal prison and put nearly every captive at the prison camps complex under lockdown.

Before the lockdown, the military counted 43 of the 166 men as hunger strikers.

The prison camps spokesman, House, said Friday afternoon that the 54 captives added to the hunger-strike roll since then had hidden their hunger strike from the prison by obscuring their cell surveillance cameras, the reason for the April 13 raid.

"All of the detainees who are considered hunger strikers were previously hunger striking," House said, "but could not be observed or placed under medical care because they had covered or broken the cameras" at Guantanamo's communal Camp 6.

The prison camps in Cuba have been wracked by hunger strikes almost from the start. The Pentagon set up the offshore detention center in January 2002. But the most widespread known hunger strike took place in 2005 when, according to House, "we had a detainee population of 575 detainees with 142 detainees choosing to hunger strike in July."

On average, he said, 30 detainees were "being enteral fed," the Guantanamo term for the process of snaking a tube up a captive's nose, down the back of his throat and into his stomach before pumping in a can of nutritional supplement.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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