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CPIR Statement: Support the Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strikers

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There are currently 166 internees at the Guantanamo detention camp, which is located off US territory, on Cuban land, held by force and against the wishes of the Cuban people. None of these internees have ever been charged with an offense. Some of them have spent years in this judicial black hole, with no legal rights. Because of the hidden nature of this detention camp, it is very difficult for the outside world to get reliable information about what is going on there. Those released have testified that torture is a routine occurrence. They have testified that the desecration of the Quran is a regular component in the psychological torture of prisoners. The US government has made no attempt to deny torture in this camp, and admits that nine prisoners have died there. The British government has admitted complicity in the kidnapping and torture of prisoners in Guantanamo, and has agreed to pay compensation to at least one man.

 

We believe that prisoners in Guantanamo have been on hunger strike for 44 days now. There is some contention over this figure, as the US government does not regard someone as being on hunger strike until they have missed nine consecutive meals. Lawyers for the prisoners claim that the majority of the prisoners are now on Hunger Strike. The state claims that the figure is 24. Again, the official definition of Hunger Strike may be being used to deny the total number.

 

Incredibly, one young Yemeni man, Tariq Ba Odah, has been on uninterrupted Hunger Strike since February 2007. He is force-fed daily by Guantanamo camp guards. The World Medical Association's Declaration of Tokyo, 1975, has designated the force feeding of prisoners a form of torture. It seems that some of those who have joined this most recent Hunger Strike have also been subjected to force feeding. Irish people will remember that Thomas Ashe and Michael Gaughan were murdered by British force feeding, while on Hunger Strike.

 

In early February, 2013, during a search of the camp, a Quran was handled in a disrespectful manner by camp guards. Hunger Strike began. But, this was far from a one off provocation by the camp régime.

 

The camp régime has provoked numerous suicide attempts among the internees. Apart from the torture and sectarian provocations inflicted by the camp guards, the lack of charges or any specific accusation against the prisoners leaves them suffering the constant mental torture, so well described in Franz Kafka's The Trial, leading to chronic health problems. We know that genuine Al Qaeda members are not kept in Guantanamo. They are busy doing the dirty work of the US ruling class in Libya and Syria, supplied with all the money and weapons they want.

 

Barack Obama fraudulently presented himself for election on the platform of closing this obscene internment camp. It is time that he had the courage to start keeping some of his promises. It is well past time that Guantanamo was closed down, and the land on which it is built returned to its rightful owners, the Cuban people. All prisoners there should be released and compensated for their illegal abduction and confinement. In the short term, the camp régime must enter into talks with the prisoners and provide guarantees that religion will not be used against the internees as an instrument of torture.

 

Páirtí Cummanach na Poblachta

21ú Márta 2013

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