World outraged at atrocities in Gitmo

Press TV has conducted an interview with Ralph Schoenman, political commentator, Berkeley, California, about the issue of inhumane treatment at Guantanamo Bay prison and the hunger strike in its third month that involves 130 of the 166 prisoners there.

The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: In retrospect, the past 103 days has seen so many rights violations at Guantanamo; the inhumane treatment, the desecration of the Holy Qur’an and now we’re also getting reports of prisoners being attacked at point blank by lethal arsenal. How do you perceive the past 100 or so days at the Guantanamo prison?

Schoenman: The 103 days of hunger strike are a desperate effort on the part of victims at Guantanamo to call attention to their inhumane treatment.

From the beginning of their being held there they have been subject to sensory deprivation, to brutal force beatings, to being held in tortured positions to being subjected to every kind of abuse, sexual and otherwise, by their guards without any recourse.

The Guardianreported on May 13th, that the hunger strikers have now been subjected to new methods of forced feeding and lawyers have stated that humiliating body searches were instituted for prisoners who merely asked to talk to representatives.

As a matter of fact, over 20 organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the New York University’s School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic have demanded that this forced feeding of prisoners end. They called it cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Leading international medical bodies as reported in both The New York Times and The Guardian have come out to condemn the forced feeding of detainees. And I should call attention in particular to the op-ed piece that was published in The New York Times on April 14th called “Gitmo is killing me” by Samir Naji al-Hassan Moqbel.

It reads:

“One man weighs 77 pounds, another 98. The last I knew I weighed 132 - that was a month ago. I have been on hunger strike since February 10th and I’ve lost well over 30 pounds and I will not eat until they restore my dignity and cease this abuse. I’ve been detained at Guantanamo for 11 years and 3 months; I have never been charged with any crime, I have never received a trial. I could have been home years ago. I’ve done nothing. No one seriously considers me any kind of threat, but I am still held here.

In this searing account, which is evocative of the torture that is reported in concentration camps and in the Gulags of Stalin, it continues -

“Last month on March 15th I was sick in a prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the Extreme Reaction Force (ERF), a squad of 8 military officers in riot gear burst in and tied my hands and feet to the bed, forcibly inserted IVs. I spent 26 hours in this state tied upside down to the bed. I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted something, which was painful and degrading.

I was not permitted to pray. I will ever forget the first time a feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force fed this way. I was forced to vomit. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach I have never experienced such pain.

I am still being force fed. Twice a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms legs and head strapped down. I never know when they will come; they come during the night, they come when I am asleep.

There are so many of us on hunger strike that there aren’t enough medical staff even to observe or to carry out of forced feedings.”

The continued description on this op-ed piece are a horror, which emphasizes the essential torture that is involved in this continual abuse of these prisoners as this prisoner states, “charged with nothing, brought to account with nothing, allowed no trial, held incommunicado”.

“It is so painful I begged them to stop, they refused to stop. They ask me to change my clothes, they refused to allow me to hold on to even a shred of dignity. They forced me into chairs upside down if I refused to tie up they called the ERF team.”

The detailed account to that to which he has been subjected to, which is the ongoing practice for all of the protesting prisoners is a measure of the desperation and a measure of the barbarism to which they have been subjected.

And as you indicate, human rights organizations, civil liberties organizations, people of conscience around the world are raising an outcry about this mobilizing opposition and the regime of Obama is indifferent to this. It has not changed in the slightest iota the continuation of this treatment and there is small indication in practical terms they will.