Hunger strikers pledge to die in Gitmo

More than 200 detainees in Guantánamo Bay are in their fifth week of a hunger strike, the UK Guardian reports Sept. 9. The paper cites statements from prisoners recently declassified by the US government, revealing that the men are starving themselves in protest at the conditions in the camp and claimed abuses by guards—including desecration of the Koran.

The statements, written on August 11, have been released to the British human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith. In one, Binyam Mohammed, a former London schoolboy, said: “I do not plan to stop until I either die or we are respected.”

Stafford Smith, who represents 40 detainees at Guantánamo Bay, including eight British residents, said many men had been refusing food for more than four weeks. “I am worried about the lives of my guys because they are a pretty obstinate lot and they are going to go through with this and I think they are going to end up killing themselves,” he said. “The American military doesn’t want anyone to know about this.”

He refuted US claims that only 76 prisoners at the base are refusing food.

The hunger strike is the second since late June. The first ended after the authorities made a number of promises, including better access to books, and bottled drinking water. The men claim that they were tricked into eating again.

In his statement, Mohammed described how during the first strike men were placed on intravenous drips after refusing food for 20 days. His statement reads:

“The administration promised that if we gave them 10 days, they would bring the prison into compliance with the Geneva conventions. They said this had been approved by Donald Rumsfeld himself in Washington DC. As a result of these promises, we agreed to end the strike on July 28. It is now August 11. They have betrayed our trust… Hisham from Tunisia was savagely beaten in his interrogation and they publicly desecrated the Quran… Saad from Kuwait was ERF’d [visited by the Extreme Reaction Force] for refusing to go…to interrogation because the female interrogator had sexually humiliated him…for 5 hours.” (Online at TruthOut)

See our last post on the ongoing torture scandal, and the hunger strike.