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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2013
9:24 AM

CONTACT: London Guantánamo Campaign

E-mail: london.gtmo@gmail.com Tel: Aisha Maniar: + 44 (0) 7809 757 176

London Guantánamo Campaign to Hold Emergency Protest in Support of Guantánamo Bay Hunger Strikers, Sunday 17 March, 2-4pm, US Embassy

WASHINGTON - March 15 - Since early February, the vast majority of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have been on hunger strike, in response to the arbitrary confiscation of personal items from their cells and the desecration of copies of the Koran by prison interpreters [1]. Their lawyers havereceived reports of “men coughing up blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued, and being moved to Camp V for observation. Detainees have also expressed feeling increased stress, fear, and despair.” [2] Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the US militarycontinues to deny the existence ofthe hunger strike [3].

The London Guantánamo Campaign [4] will hold a demonstration in support of the Guantánamo Bay hunger strikers on Sunday 17 March at 2-4pm outside the US Embassy in London. British resident Shaker Aamer [5] is also on hunger strike. The hunger strike has been largely overlooked by the mainstream media and human rights community.

Aisha Maniar, an organiser from the London Guantánamo Campaign, said:

“Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have gone on hunger strike a number of times in the past to protest the conditions of their detention. It is perhaps one of the very few means available to them. While it has resulted in force feeding, a further violation of their rights, it has also often resulted in better prison conditions. However, improvements have failed to address the underlying desperation and frustration the prisoners feel after eleven years of imprisonment without charge, trial or the prospect of release. This is akin to a hostage crisis.

“Having failed to keep his first-term promises on Guantánamo Bay, Barack Obama’s administration is instead letting what he had once called a “misguided experiment” spiral out of control. As well as respecting the prisoners’ lawful demands to have their human rights recognised, the US administration must take positive steps to prevent any such further escalations by releasing the prisoners and closing the prison.”

NOTES TO EDITOR

1. On 4 March, lawyers for the prisoners wrote to the prison commander Rear Admiral John Smith raising these matters and the resulting hunger strike, calling on the US military to “take immediate measures to bring an end this potentially life - threatening situation in the camps by addressing the reasons that give rise to it.

“Camp authorities must cease the arbitrary and regressive practices being reported by our clients, including all intrusive searches of the Qur’an.”

http://ccrjustice.org/files/2013_03_04_Ltr_JTF_Smith_Welsh.pdf

166 prisoners remain at Guantánamo Bay, of whom more than half have been cleared for release and less than a dozen face charges. With few exceptions, all have been held for up to and over 11 years without charge or trial.

2. Ibid.

3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10685865

4. The London Guantánamo Campaign campaigns for justice for all prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, for the closure of this and other secret prisons, and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition. http://londonguantanamocampaign.blogspot.com

5. Shaker Aamer was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. He claims to have been tortured repeatedly during his time in US custody, on one occasion in the presence of a British intelligence agent. He has a British wife and four children living in Battersea, south London. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought his release in August 2007, along with four other residents held at Guantánamo Bay, the last of whom was released in February 2009. http://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/shakeraamer/

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The London Guantánamo Campaign campaigns for justice for all prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, for the closure of this and other secret prisons, and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition.



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