PressTVGlobalNews·Apr 5, 2013
A political analyst tells Press TV that there is a kind of very brutal attempt to clamp down on the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to try and stop them from being on hunger strike.
Now more than 100 detainees at the United States’ infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba are staging a hunger strike to protest disrespect of the Qur’an and confiscation of personal items. The International Committee of the Red Cross has increased its visits to Guantanamo, raising concerns about the health of the hunger strikers.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Andy Worthington, from Close Guantanamo Campaign, to further discuss the issue.
Updated April 7, 2013
Andy Worthington Talks About the US Authorities’ Brutal Response to the Guantánamo Hunger Strike on Press TV
Since a hunger strike began at Guantánamo two months ago, I have been endeavoring to play my part to keep it in the public eye, because the news of the hunger strike has finally awakened significant interest in the prison, after many years in which almost the whole world had lost interest in the plight of the men still detained at Guantánamo, even though President Obama promised to close it, and then failed to do, and even though over half of the men still held — 86 of the remaining 166 prisoners — were cleared for release by an inter-agency task force established by the President himself, but are still held because of obstructions raised by both the President and Congress.
The hunger strike involves the majority of the prisoners at Guantánamo — around 130 in total — and they are on a hunger strike to protest about conditions at the prison, and the shameful truth of their indefinite detention. The authorities have been gradually acknowledging that the hunger strike exists, after initial denials, but they still only accept that around a quarter of the men are going without food and risking their lives to tell the world how unjustly they are being treated, rather then the three-quarters of the prison’s population that the prisoners themselves claim are involved.
Since news of the strike began, I have written articles here, here, here, here and here (via Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison), and I have also spoken about the hunger strike on RT and Press TV, on the radio with Dennis Bernstein, Peter B. Collins and Michael Slate, and in print in an interview for Revolution newspaper.
A few days ago, I spoke again to Press TV, and the video of that interview is embedded below, along with a transcript of the interview, which Press TV entitled, “Gitmo guards brutally clamp down on hunger strikers.”
[See above video.]
Press TV: Andy Worthington, looking at day 58 [of the hunger strike], do you think this is going to make any difference in the plight of these inmates who are on hunger strike at this point for this period of time?
Andy Worthington: Well, I really do hope that we are getting somewhere. Essentially the men had been almost completely forgotten about both within the United States and internationally until they started a hunger strike, and gradually over the last month or so that has become noticed, is being talked about internationally, and my feeling is that there are pressure points being opened up on the Obama administration to get the President to do something.
It is essentially, you know, it is up to him to move in addressing the issues that are troubling the prisoners in the prison, but particularly the bigger picture of moving forward with his failed promise to close Guantánamo, and very specifically I think securing the release of the 86 men who have been cleared for release but are still held, and also to provide reviews for the 46 prisoners who two years ago he designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial — a terrible thing for him to be doing but only remotely acceptable on the basis that he promised that there would be regular periodic reviews of their cases to establish whether they should still be held, and those haven’t happened.
So, you know, he needs to address the very justifiable reasons that the men at Guantánamo are in despair and on a hunger strike.
Press TV: And if you can tell us quickly about what you have been actively involved with since you are from the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, in terms of your campaign, I guess?
Andy Worthington: Well, we have just been trying to publicize the story and to make sure that people keep writing about it, keep sharing it on social media, keep talking about it, keep putting pressure on.
One of the important things that has happened in the last week is that Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal action charity Reprieve, one of the lawyers representing Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, issued an affidavit detailing a phone conversation that he had with Shaker Aamer just last weekend, a very detailed explanation of some of the things that are happening in Guantánamo, some of the things that aren’t being reported.
What we really see from that is that within Guantánamo itself we have a kind of very brutal attempt to clamp down on the prisoners, to try and stop them from being on hunger strike, but the truth for the administration is that this is no way to go about things. The men have very legitimate complaints.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.