An animation produced by The Guardian depicts what it has been like for Guantanamo prisoners. The “personal statements of five detainees,” four cleared for release and one who actually has been released, provide a basis for the images that are shown.
The statements in the animation come from Shaker Aamer, Younous Chekkouri, Samir Moqbel, Ahmed Belbacha and Nabil Hadjarab.
Aamer is the last British prisoner. He has a wide and four children in London and has been indefinitely detained for over 11 years. He described in a declaration the treatment he believed he was experiencing because he chose to go on hunger strike.
In April, Moqbel wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about participating in the hunger strike. He described what it was like to be brutally force-fed and mentioned he had been imprisoned for 11 years and three months.
Chekkouri, also in prison for over eleven years indefinitely, detailed in April what he believed was an effort by the guards at Guantanamo to “break Muslims.” He too participated in the hunger strike.
Ahmed Belbacha, in June, pleaded with President Barack Obama to “end the nightmare that is Guantanamo Bay” and let him and others go free.
One of the most striking aspects of the animation is seeing what it is like to be force-fed from the point of view of a Guantanamo prisoner. The animated human body shows the liquid being pumped into the stomach of a prisoner.
There are flashbacks to times in the prison’s history when dogs were being used on prisoners, when prisoners were wheeled into the prison shackled to carts. The prisoners still there do not forget.
A scene pans across the different cells with prisoners inside them. It is during the hunger strike and meals set out on a bench are not touched. A prisoner with his legs tucked in sits by the door of his cell wondering when this will all be over.
There are eighty-four prisoners cleared for release. Those eighty-four include Aamer, Belbacha, Chekkouri and Moqbel.
Cori Crider, the strategic director for a legal charity in the United Kingdom named Reprieve, reacted, “This animation cuts straight through the sterilized Gitmo the US government would have us believe in to the ugly reality my clients face. Over half of these prisoners have been cleared for release for years, including British resident Shaker Aamer. Yet he and the others remain without charge or trial. Obama must send the cleared men home.”
More than four years after pledging to close the prison, President Barack Obama’s administration has reportedly renewed efforts to release dozens of prisoners by reviewing cases. The administration also has appointed a special envoy at the Defense Department to work on closing the prison.
But how much longer will the nightmare last?