‘Meaningful negotiations may end hunger strike, but Obama must act too’ - Gitmo attorney

‘Meaningful negotiations may end hunger strike, but Obama must act too’ - Gitmo attorney
The military in charge of the Gitmo camp still can prevent people dying and put an end to the hunger strike, but the US president as well must act on his promise to close Guantanamo, Carlos Warner, a public defender representing a prisoner, told RT.

The latest official figures from the Guantanamo authorities suggest that 100 of total 166 inmates are taking part in a hunger strike that started around February 6. The number of prisoners being force-fed under medical observation with no “life-threatening conditions” is fluctuating from day to day. But one of the lawyers, Carlos Warner told RT that anyone who is being tube fed after losing a “third or more of his body weight is in a very dire position.”

RT:What’s the latest you’ve got from your client, a Kuwaiti man, Fayiz Kandari, what condition is he, and the rest of the inmates, in?

Carlos Warner: He’s in a terrible condition. I talked to him on Friday by telephone. He indicated that they are using a large tube in his nose, a size 10 instead of a size 8, which is causing him pain. He went into detail about the raid. He wanted me to underscore that this is a peaceful process, they intend no violence and any detainee that engages in violence has it wrong. This is a peaceful protest against what’s happening in Guantanamo.

RT:I guess the authorities will say they’ve got a duty to care, to look after these guys as well, they say none of them are in a condition that is life threatening. True or False?

CW: Completely false. Obviously anyone who is being tube fed and who’s lost, at this point, a third or more of his body weight is in a very dire position.

RT:Where’s the boundary between the duty of care I just spoke about and being force fed? Is it justified do you think?

CW: If you’re going to be force fed, listen to the men. Do not put a bigger tube and punish them in the way you do it. But the issue here is with the president. President Obama must pick up the ball and end this strike, the military has come around and is admitting that the camp is in a full scale strike of a duration and scope we’ve never seen. The president has to intervene. Yesterday, he’s at the correspondent’s dinner making jokes while men are dying in Guantanamo. We ask that he pays some attention.

AFP Photo / John Moore

RT:Carlos, is that why the prisoners have ramped up their protest. We have seen a spike recently. That’s one of the reasons, yes or no?

CW: Look that’s the fuel that’s driving the fire. Now the military could negotiate an end to this in a matter of days. It would incorporate those who work with the men, and talk to the men instead of using force, I think they could end the strike. However, the fuel behind the fire is indefinite detention and until President Obama does something about that we are going to be stuck in the same position in 2-3 months when something else happens. It’s completely on the president’s doorstep here.

RT:Two-three months, I guess there’s likely to have been a death or two by then, with-in 2 or 3 months is it not?

CW: Well, I think the military has admitted that. You had a military advisor in the press saying there are going to be multiple deaths because of tis and that’s the fact, that’s what happens when you have hopelessness and that’s what happens when you have this terrible situation that’s being aggravated by the military. The military is at fault here, they need to negotiate an end and not just exert their will on these hopeless men. But ultimately the moves have to happen in Washington. You need to have the president say, we are dedicated to closing it, and I’m appointing someone to do it.

RT:Is that all that could be done to stop this hunger strike or is that past the point of no return almost? 

CW: No, the military can still end this by negotiating, and Fayiz Kandari said that on Friday. He said that nobody in the camp has talked to them in a meaningful way. They just attack and exert their will. So, I think if the military negotiates they can end the strike, but that’s not going to end the problem. The problem will remain until the president decides to pick up the ball and follow through with his promise to close Guantanamo. And if he doesn’t - people will die.