Hunger strikers won’t stop until they get a fair trial - former Gitmo inmate
Kunaz, who languished in Guantanamo for five years even though the American authorities knew he was innocent after 4 months, told RT that he was tortured to sign papers saying he was a member of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
RT:How did you end up in Guantanamo?
Murat Kunaz: I was sold for bounty, $3,000 dollars to the American government, but as soon as the American government found out that I was innocent and not a terrorist, they let me go back home. They knew I was innocent 4 months after I got arrested, but I stayed 5 years in Guantanamo altogether. They always forced me to sign papers saying that I should agree that I am a member of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and every time I refused to sign those kinds of papers they tortured me in different kind of ways like water-boarding and electric shocks. They thought that I would agree to sign those papers.
RT:Why, if they knew you were innocent after four months, were you only released after 5 years?
MK: I was from the beginning innocent, so they could have let me go home any time if they wanted. The German government had to agree that they wanted to take me back, so as soon as they did this I was allowed to come back home.
RT:But why did it take so long if they knew you were innocent?
MK: Because once you are in the system it’s very difficult to get out even if the government knows you are innocent. 95% of those prisoners have never had a trail and they still won’t get one in the future. That means they’ll be staying there all their life, even though they are innocent.
RT:Did you ever go on hunger strike when you were in Guantanamo?
MK: Yes, I went on hunger strike a couple of times during my time in Guantanamo. If you have been on hunger strike more than 3-4 weeks, they start force feeding you and that means you get handcuffed and shackled to a chair so you can’t move and you get fed food through a pipe up your nose and into your stomach, so they can keep you alive for many months or years of course.
RT:What is driving prisoners to take these desperate measures?
MK: I can understand those detainees, they have been there more than 11 years, and they still haven’t had a trial. I think it will be their last hunger strike for most of the detainees. I believe they will never eat regular meals there again. They’ll have to be force fed or else they will die.
RT:Did anything change in Guantanamo when the Obama administration came into power?
MK: Yes, a little bit. There were small changes, a couple of things. It was very important for us to get medication for sick prisoners. We had some prisoners who were very sick, they needed medication that they weren’t getting. So, when we started hunger striking they started giving out medication for those sick people.
RT: What needs to be done to close Guantanamo?
MK: Of course more pressure needs to be put on the president of the USA, Barack Obama, including the hunger strike. So if this continues things might change.
RT:What do the inmates of Guantanamo want?
MK: They want to be tried. This is all they need. As soon as this happens they will be happy.
RT:How long do you think this hunger strike will go on for?
MK: We can’t compare this hunger strike now with other ones, which went on for one or two months - this hunger strike is already over three months. Even the American government has to take it very seriously now because more than 80% of the prisoners are on hunger strike.
RT:Have you spoken to anyone else who has been in Guantanamo?
MK: I have talked to a couple of prisoners who were
released after I got released, so they told me a couple of things
were much the same, after Barack Obama, a couple of things got
changed but nothing much.