‘Gitmo secrecy creates environment for abuse’
Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay inmates said that “all but a few men” in one of the prison's camps are on hunger strike, in protest over alleged disrespect to the Koran and the confiscation of personal items. The prisoners' condition is said to be “rapidly deteriorating and reaching a potentially critical level.”
Rights activists in the US have claimed that prisoners' personal items were being taken, and exercise was being restricted. RT spoke with geopolitical analyst Ryan Dawson – who has written extensively on Guantanamo – to hear his opinion on these accusations.
Ryan Dawson: They really have very little other recourse other than a hunger strike. It’s not the first hunger strike – they had it before in 2005, when it went to the point when 18 people were hospitalized. What I find disgusting in this one though is that the US is denying that this strike is as large as it is and downplaying its scale. But they’ve had to admit that at least five have been force-fed food through tubes in their stomachs.
So this is obviously real. But what happens is that we have an imposition between the [Guantanamo] spokesman, whose name is Robert Durand, and the inmates’ lawyers. You can’t really believe everything Robert Durand says because has been covering up all the tortures and murders from the Guantanamo Bay the entire time.
This infamous case in 2006, when there were three so-called suicides, where there was Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman and four other witnesses who know that these men were murdered. But again, the spokesman for the Navy Robert Durand covered that up. So, when it comes to this dispute between the word of the spokesman of Gitmo and the lawyers – I’m going to have to believe the lawyers and believe that this is a massive hunger-strike.
RT: Guantanamo is no stranger to human rights violations. How much of a concern is this latest incident? Are we looking at a new low?
RD: I think we are looking at the same low: It’s hard to get lower than Guantanamo Bay has been. A lot of these men are detained without a trial, some without even charges. It doesn’t mean they are innocent, but it doesn’t mean they are guilty either.
The problem is secrecy. When you have this level of secrecy, you’re just creating the environment for abuse, because they are basically human beings with no rights. The first hunger strike was over beatings from the IRF – this is the Inmate Response Force. This again when they are confiscating their items. This is the little freedom they have.
So this is a really low point, but I don’t know if a new low because it’s continuingly low.
RT: Do you expect the military to act and solve this? What do you expect their reaction to be?
RD: Well, the rational thing would be to resolve the conflict by, maybe, returning the confiscated items and treating the Koran with respect. I mean, that’s what we are told. It could be far worse than that. However, they usually don’t act in a rational way. They are probably going to just force-feed these people and deny the hunger strike for as long as possible. It happened before and they waited till 18 were hospitalized.
RT: Barack Obama promised to close the facility at the beginning of his first term. Why is it still open?
RD: Because Barack Obama is a liar. Barack Obama promised many things. But he didn’t even attempt to close it, and there are more prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay now than there were in there when he got into office.