'I cannot force him to stop the hunger strike' - father of Gitmo hunger striker
RT:Did your son tell you why he is on hunger strike?
Al-Odah: I think this is the only way available for them to protest their indefinite detention in Guantanamo, my son has been there for 11 years without having justice and he is there without committing any crime, no charges against him. So the problem is that they don’t have anything to attract the attention of the world, that we are there, please help us. One sentence he told me during the last call a week ago he said father we are pushing our life’s to the edge so
the rest of the world can hear us and help us. My wife was sitting beside me while we were talking to him, and we can see him. She could not prevent herself from crying, she just stepped away from the chair and started crying, she doesn’t want her son to see her in this situation.
RT:What exactly is going on there?
AO: It is very difficult for me to tell what is going on there because there is surveillance, there are restrictions for all detainees, not to talk about the conditions inside the prison, it is very rare to know any indication from him, but I can tell by the way he looks, he was so skinny, this is the first time for him to put some glasses on his eyes, he looks horrible.
He could not concentrate while he was talking to me. I have sometimes to repeat simple sentences to him two or three times, just to get his attention so he could understand what I am saying. When he starts talking to me, there is no talk except social talk about the family and social things. You can tell the way he is being treated by his look, he is so skinny, he is disturbed, he cannot concentrate, he has a lack of nutrition which has affected his body, his thinking, his brain, we are very concerned, very concerned about his life.
RT:Did he say anything about the hunger strike?
AO: Well I can tell you this, I do not want him to participate in the hunger strike, just to save his life but I cannot force him or tell him to stop that because I don’t know what’s going on inside this camp or inside this prison, which is horrible. The news we have received during the 11 years, it is horrible, the way they are being treated, abused.
There was some deaths inside the prison, so I think he is a man and he can decide what the best is for him. My thinking or suggestions will not be effective for him since he is living there.
RT:What will happen if people on hunger strike start to die?
AO: I am hesitant to answer this, because I don’t know what will happen to him in the coming years. I don’t know if Obama is saying the right thing and he will do it, he will close the camp and send the detainees to their countries. I hope, I pray to God that he is saying the right thing. I am really, really very cautious.
RT:Do you believe Obama intends to close Guantanamo?
From experience, I hope that his word will be believed by me. We have a very bad experience on this. But if he really is saying this I am taking it very cautiously, and hope that this time he will do it.