I have just received a brief message from a credible source inside Guantánamo, about the situation in the prison today, which I wanted to make available because it exposes how four prisoners are close to death, as a result of the prison-wide hunger strike that is on its 80th day, and yet the guard force are behaving with brutality and indifference.
The source stated that it “looks like GTMO is going backward,” with the guards “putting people in isolation and all day long making lots of noise by speaking loudly, running on the metal stairs and leaving their two-way radios on all day and night. People cannot sleep.”
The source added, “There are at least four people that are at the very edge and one named Khiali Gul from Afghanistan is in a bad shape and cannot move and cannot talk or eat or drink. When other detainees tell the guards about him, they say, ‘When he is completely unconscious, then we will take him.’ The chances are that he will die.”
The source also explained that he has been trying to get an Afghan lawyer “to notify his family to at least call him and they might have a chance to talk to him for the last time.”
The source also stated, “There is such an arrogance inside the camp,” that, while a prisoner was meeting with his legal team, “a guard came and knocked on the door and said, ‘Your time is up.’ One of the lawyers said, ‘OK, can we have a few minutes to clean up?’ and the guard said, ‘No, your time is up.’ He kicked us out.”
Khiali Gul (aka Khi Ali Gul), who is 49 or 50 years old, is one of the 86 cleared prisoners still held because of President Obama’s inertia and the cynical obstructions raised by Congress, designed to prevent the release of any of the prisoners. He is an Afghan who should never have been detained in the first place, as I explained last July, when I wrote about discussions between Presidents Obama and Karzai regarding the possibility of transferring some or all of the remaining 17 Afghan prisoners back to Afghanistan.
I first declared Khi Ali Gul innocent in my book The Guantánamo Files, published in 2007, and can say with confidence that I came to regard him as an innocent man wrongly detained while researching the prisoners’ stories in the summer of 2006. In my article last July, drawing on my analysis of his story in my book, I wrote:
[Gul] was captured in Khost and accused of taking part in a bomb plot and being part of a Taliban assassination team. During his long years in Guantánamo, he has stated that he fought with US forces in Tora Bora, and described one occasion when “the Americans were sleeping and we were guarding them.” He added, “If I were their enemy, I would have killed them all.” He was captured at a checkpoint, where, he said, “there were some people that I had a dispute with,” and he added that they “told the American soldiers a lie,” and he was then arrested.
Last September, another cleared prisoner, Adnan Latif, died in Guantánamo, allegedly by committing suicide. President Obama needs to act immediately, so that other cleared prisoners, like Khiali Gul, do not die.
The President needs to understand that the hunger strike is a result of despair, and cannot be seen in the narrow context of the need to restore order in the prison, and, as commander in chief, he needs to rein in the guard force.
Most of all, though, he needs to release those like Khiali Gul who were told, at least three years and three months ago, in January 2010, when President Obama’s inter-agency task force issued its report recommending prisoners for transfer, indefinite detention or trials, “On January 22 2009, the President of the United States ordered a new review of the status of each detainee in Guantánamo. As a result of that review you have been cleared for transfer out of Guantánamo … The US Government intends to transfer you as soon as possible …”
Act now, President Obama, or these tragic and unacceptable deaths will be on your conscience.
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.
Updated: April 29, 2013
[DS added the videos.]
A Desperate Situation at Guantánamo: Over 130 Prisoners on Hunger Strike, Dozens Being Force Fed
democracynow on Apr 29, 2013
http://www.democracynow.org – The U.S. military has acknowledged for the first time the number of prisoners on hunger strike at the military prison has topped 100. About a fifth of the hunger strikers are now being forced fed. Lawyers for the prisoners say more than 130 men are taking part in the hunger strike, which began in February. One of the hunger strikers is a Yemeni man named Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel. In a letter published in the New York Times, he wrote: “Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made. I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.” We speak to attorney Carlos Warner who represents 11 prisoners at Guantánamo. He spoke to one of them on Friday. “Unfortunately, they are held because the president has no political will to end Guantánamo,” Warner says. “The president has the authority to transfer individuals if he believes that it’s in the interest of the United States. He doesn’t have the political will to do so because 166 men in Guantánamo don’t have much pull in the United States. But the average American on the street does not understand that half of these men, 86 of the men, are cleared for release.”
Updated May 1, 2013
‘Obama, Congress ignore Gitmo inmates’
PressTVGlobalNews on Apr 30, 2013
Press TV has interviewed Andy Worthington, with Close Guantanamo campaign from London, about the maltreatment of Gitmo hunger strikers.
Obama forced to speak on Gitmo hunger strike
RTAmerica on Apr 30, 2013
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama addressed his concerns for the Guantanamo Bay hunger strike and reiterated his goal of closing down the military detention facility. Obama said he doesn’t want the individuals participating in the protest to die and new reports indicate that as many as 130 of the 166 prisoners detained there are refusing to eat. RT’s Meghan Lopez brings us more on the situation in Cuba.
Contact President Obama
Contact the White House and tell President Obama, “Please release the 86 prisoners cleared for release by your inter-agency task force, and initiative objective reviews for the 46 others that you designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial in an executive order two years ago.” Call 202-456-1111 or submit a comment online. Please also tell President Obama, “Please appoint a White House official to direct the closure of Guantánamo, and direct the Secretary of Defense to use his authority under the law to release men who will not be charged. Please also lift your own blanket ban on sending home the cleared Yemeni prisoners.”
Contact Chuck Hagel
Contact Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and tell him, “Please use your authority under the law to resume transferring the 86 men cleared for release by President Obama’s inter-agency task force. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2013) gives you the authority to certify men or issue waivers so they can be released from Guantánamo, and you must use this authority without further delay.” Call Secretary Hagel at the Department of Defense on 703-571-3343 or submit a comment online.