On Guantanamo 13th Anniversary, Detainee Describes Ongoing Torture

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On Guantanamo 13th Anniversary, Detainee Describes Ongoing Torture

LONDON - 13 years after the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay was opened, a hunger striking detainee who has been cleared for release, yet remains imprisoned, has described his ongoing torture.

Emad Hassan, a Yemeni detainee who has been on hunger strike since 2007 and cleared for release since 2009, wrote in a recent letter to his lawyers at human rights NGO Reprieve that “they have strapped us to the torture chair for four hours - two in the morning and two in the evening”. 

Mr Hassan wrote that when visitors – such as journalists or Congressional members – are touring the prison, the medical staff rush force-feedings, despite him telling the doctors, “I will vomit.” Mr Hassan wrote, “We have to be force-fed slowly, but if there are tourists they do it very fast…one of the medical staff says ‘there are tourists and you have to finish in five minutes.’”     

The US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay was opened on January 11th, 2002. 127 men remain at the prison, 59 of whom have been cleared for release. At its height, the prison held nearly 800 men.

Mr Hassan continued in his letter, “We have been cleared for years yet we are still here! They cannot send us to our home countries because those countries may torture us. So what are you doing to us here every day?” 

Last year, a US Federal Judge ruled that the government should release video footage of a long-time hunger striker and Reprieve client, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, being force-fed. Mr Dhiab has since been released to Uruguay but legal wrangling over the release of the tapes is ongoing. 16 media organisations joined the litigation in an attempt to force the government to release the video tapes. The Obama administration has appealed this order.

Among the remaining detainees is British resident Shaker Aamer, who was been cleared since 2007, and whom the UK government has said they want returned to his British wife and children in London. Mr Aamer’s lawyers and his family are urging the Prime Minister to raise Shaker’s case with President Obama in his upcoming US visit, and establish a date for Mr Aamer’s return.   

Cori Crider, Strategic Director at Reprieve and attorney for Guantanamo detainees, said: “Guantánamo shames us all. It shames us not just on these bleak anniversaries, but with every single day that we shelve and forget cleared prisoners like Britain’s Shaker Aamer. Guantánamo remains Exhibit A for people around the world who would teach the disaffected and hopeless that the West is a hypocrite when it preaches to other states about human rights. And to this day, Guantánamo punishes and abuses cleared men – men like ninety-pound Emad Hassan, who has the temerity to hunger strike in protest at his unjust fate. Send Shaker home. Set Emad free. Shut it down.”

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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

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