Guantanamo hunger strike enters 100th day

Activists protest outside White House calling for immediate closure of controversial jail

Guantanamo hunger strike enters 100th day

World Bulletin/News Desk

Activists demanding the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison have marked the 100th day of a hunger strike there by submitting a petition to the White House containing some 370,000 signatures, Al Jazeera reported.

A group of activists wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods like those used on detainees at Guantanamo Bay gathered outside the White House on Friday to call for the immediate closure of the controversial jail.

"Immoral, illegal, ineffective," a banner read.

Richard Killmer, executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, said that "years of detention without charge or trial have created a sense of desperation and hopelessness among the men at Guantanamo, which has led over 100 of them to join a hunger strike".

Colonel Morris Davis, a former military prosecutor at Guantanamo, handed over the petition to the White House, the report stated.

Activists also brandished an effigy of President Barack Obama, referencing his past vow to close the US military prison.

Out of 166 inmates, 102 are on hunger strike at Guantanamo, with 30 being fed through tubes. One inmate continued to be hospitalised but prison officials said his life was not in danger.

Inmates are restrained and a feeding tube is pushed through their nose and into their stomach - a practise the UN compares to torture.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Dr Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General at the World Medical Association, said the force-feeding was "degrading and inhuman".

The current hunger strike began in early February, after guards seized photos and other belongings during a cell search. Prisoners said the guards had also mistreated their Korans during the search, which the U.S. military denies.

The military has declined to say what prompted the cell searches but similar searches have been conducted in the past.

Though the cell search was the immediate trigger, military officials and lawyers for the prisoners have said the protest generally reflects frustration with the failure to resolve the prisoners' fate. Most have been held for more than a decade without charge or trial and Congress has blocked Obama administration efforts to close the camp.

Forty-three prisoners had joined the hunger strike by April 13, when guards in riot gear swept through a communal prison and forced the detainees into one-man cells where they could be better monitored. Camp officials said the detainees had covered the security cameras and windows, blocking guards' view.

The number refusing meals has grown steadily since then, and two prisoners tried to kill themselves by making nooses with their clothing, House said.

More than half of Guantanamo's prisoners have been cleared for release but Congress has put stringent restrictions on transfers. About two-thirds of those cleared for release are Yemenis and the Obama administration has halted repatriations to their homeland because of instability there.

 

Last Mod: 18 Mayıs 2013, 16:00
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