The headlines were ablaze with stories regarding the outbreak of violence at Guantanamo, as on April 13 the military mounted raids in the dead of night to force hunger-striking prisoners from the communal living in the prison’s Camp 6 into solitary confinement isolation cells in the hated confines of Camp 5.
Considering the way the military has handled the situation at Guantanamo — forbidding reporters at the island, making nice to the ICRC only to conduct violent raids on detainees as soon as Red Cross officials leave, force-feeding hunger-striking detainees against all medical ethics and protocols — you’d think the Pentagon thought they had another Koje-do prison camp rebellion on their hands.
Apparently the White House was notified in advance of the nighttime raids on the debilitated hunger strikers, who according to military accounts (which one must take with maximum suspicion), fought back with mop and broom handles and plastic water bottles.
Whatever military police met in terms of opposition, what they certainly encountered were emaciated prisoners, worn down by years of interrogation, isolation, brutality, and now hunger, as they wield the only real weapons they know, their very bodies, choosing death over the hopelessness and torture that is indefinite detention.
The claims of recent violence miss something that is greater than nuance, they miss the total reality of the situation.
Guantanamo is one ongoing violent governmental atrocity, from the ever-present raids of the Emergency Reaction Force (ERF), who forcibly removes detainees from their cells by beating them violently, to violence done to body and spirit by chaining men, submits them to sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, forced drugging (detainees “chemically restrained”), and subjects them to interrogations according to an Army Field Manual condemned for human rights abuse by nearly human rights group around the world.
Judge Denies Bid for Relief from Abuse
Meanwhile, according to an account in this morning’s New Zealand Herald, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan denied an emergency motion for relief from Yemeni prisoner Musa’ab Al-Madhwani. Al Madhwani had said he was being denied safe drinking water by Guantanamo authorities, and being subjected to “extremely frigid” temperatures. A military psychiatrist who knows the situation at Guantanamo very well, retired Brigadier General Stephen Xenakis, told the court the treatment Madhwani was receiving at Guantanamo was threatening Al Madhwani’s very life.
Xenakis wrote that after being treated with intravenous fluids following a collapse last week, the prisoner was placed in solitary confinement and has not received daily monitoring of his medical condition.
“Given the gravity of his condition, these failures constitute deliberate indifference to his obvious serious medical needs,” Xenakis wrote.
But Hogan denied the motion for judicial relief, saying his hands were tied by the Military Commissions Act and he did not have jurisdiction in the case. You could almost hear Hogan’s sneer as he maintained Al Madhwani’s health problems were “self-manufactured.”
According to the Herald story, “When one of al-Madhwani’s lawyers, Darold Killmer, mentioned the alleged mistreatment of other detainees, Hogan responded, ‘This is not a class-action.'”
At the hearing Obama’s DOJ attorney maintained that no hunger striker had ever died at Guantanamo. He evidently forgot to mention that nearly all of those who have died at Guantanamo in the past seven years had been hunger strikers, all of them supposedly “suicides”: Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani in 2006; Abdul Rahman Al Amri in 2007; Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al Hanashi in 2009; and Adnan Farhan Abd Al Latif in 2012. The government has yet to release details of the investigations into all but one of these deaths. [cont’d]