[Marxism] Don't forget the men of Guantanamo
stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Wed Nov 18 16:10:30 MST 2009
Don’t forget the men of Guantanamo
13 November 2009
*When United States President Barack Obama issued an executive order in
January to close down the military-run prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, a
collective sigh of relief spread across the world. *
However, the camps’ gates are still open and the latest statements suggest
that it will not be closed by the January 22, 2010 deadline. In fact,
numerous reports, including letters released by those currently held in the
facility, indicate that treatment has not improved, but worsened since Obama
Former detainee Binyam Mohammed said after his release in February that the
guards wanted to “take their last revenge” before the facility closed. A
letter released this week by Mr Shabali, who is currently detained in
Guantanamo, echoes this sentiment.
When Obama signed the executive order to close Guantanamo, he also initiated
for an internal Defense Department review to investigate conditions within
the prison. The findings were handed down in February. Not surprisingly, all
allegations of abuse, torture and ill-treatment were dismissed.
Vice Admiral Patrick Walsh concluded that Guantanamo was a “well run
facility” that went beyond complying with common article three of the Geneva
A separate report was released the same day by the Centre for Constitutional
Rights (CCR). It told a very different story.
A series of serious allegations are made by the report, which are confirmed
by the testimony of recently-released detainees and by lawyers of those
still detained in the camp.
Such allegations include the continued practice of forced feeding.
Hunger strikes have been a common way the illegally held prisoners have
protested their treatment. Forced feeding is an extremely painful procedure
in which a tube is pushed through the nose, down the throat and into the
stomach — without analgesics or sedatives.
The detainees are strapped to a chair during the procedure, described by its
manufacturers as a “Padded Cell on Wheels”. The head, arms, legs, shoulders
and torso are strapped down, preventing any movement.
It has been reported the same tubes have been used on numerous detainees,
passing on the blood and bile of other men.
Some 1.5 litres of formula is then pumped into the detainees’ stomachs in a
process supposed to take place over the period of about an hour. However,
reports indicate this has been done in just minutes, causing ruptured
stomachs, nausea, bloating, diarrhoea and shortness of breath.
In September, Mr Shabali described the experience: “They continued force
feeding me and I felt that my intestines will explode as a result of those
In an attempt to encourage detainees to start eating again, they are placed
in nappies and given laxatives
Still strapped to the chair, they are left to sit in urine and faeces for
days at a time. When a rash spreads all over the body, they are moved to the
hospital where they are chained to the bed until the rash disappears.
If they still refuse to eat, they are taken back to the chair and the whole
process begins again.
Refusal to eat has led to “IRF’ings”, also known as Emergency or Immediate
IRF’ings take place when a team of military guards are sent into the cell of
a detainee classed as non-compliant. They have been known to break bones,
smear faeces over the men’s faces, dump their heads into toilets, urinate on
them, beat them so as to dislocate limbs and countless other appalling
It is reported such attacks have increased since Obama took office — up to
15 a day. Earlier this year, one detainee was beaten so badly that he awoke
the following morning to find a bloodstain on his pillow. The IRF team also
urinated on his head and blocked his nose and mouth so he was unable to
In 2004, military police guard Sean Baker suffered an accidental IRF’ing
after being mistaken for a detainee. He was dressed in an orange jumpsuit as
part of a training exercise.
Baker has since been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and has 10-12
seizures a day due to the beating sustained from fellow officers.
Prolonged solitary confinement is still of great concern. The impact of
solitary confinement includes severe anxiety, hallucinations, muscular
atrophy, impaired vision, hostility and confusion.
Most detainees are in solitary cells, which officials call “single occupancy
cells”. The men have virtually no human contact and can go for months at a
time without seeing sunlight.
They are punished if they try to communicate with each other through the
This prolonged solitary confinement in conjunction with cruel treatment,
including torture, has led some of the men to develop serious mental health
issues. One example is Khan Tumani, who was detained as a child.
In an incident earlier this year, he smeared his own excrement on his cell.
In response, an IRF team was sent in to punish him for his illness. The IRF
team sprayed so much pepper spray into this young man’s face that even one
of the guards vomited.
In the past, the excessive use of pepper spray led to one detainee, Omar
Deghayes, losing sight in his right eye.
Sleep deprivation also remains a problem. Sleep deprivation causes many
psychological and physical problems. It is also extremely cruel.
Lights are kept on 24 hours a day in some camps and detainees are punished
for attempting to cover their eyes. Guards have been depriving men of sleep
as a matter of policy. Operation Sandman was one policy, involving moving a
detainee from one cell to another every hour for weeks at a time.
Another way the guards keep detainees awake is through sensory bombardment.
Many former and current detainees have reported “noise machines” being left
out the front of the cells, such as chainsaw engines.
There are reports of the continued sexual humiliation of detainees.
Detainees must be strip searched every time that they want to leave their
cells, including seeing a lawyer. Reports of detainees being stripped with
“scissors or shears” have also come to light.
Unfortunately the list goes on, and these descriptions cannot begin to
capture the cruelty and sadness of Guantanamo. The walls of Guantanamo were
never designed to be comfortable. Torture has never been about the
individual body. It is an act that serves a political purpose.
We must not forget the men of Guantanamo.
From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue
#818<http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2009/818>18 November 2009.
“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original
virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through
disobedience and through rebellion.” — Oscar Wilde, Soul of Man Under
“The free market is perfectly natural... do you think I am some kind of
dummy?” — Jarvis Cocker
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