At a packed briefing on Capitol Hill, Gitmo attorneys pleaded to Congress on behalf of starving detainees at Guantanamo Bay to shut down the prison and free the dozens of men cleared for release.
Speakers included rights activists, religious clergy and Bush administration officials who condemned the past and current treatment of prisoners, particularly those being force fed.
Additional concerns were raised about detainee treatment, indefinite detention and the eroding moral standing of the United States in the international community.
Although Congress has the power to close Guantanamo, it has thus far kept it running and all signs point to its continued operation. Therefore attention is turning away from Capitol Hill and being focused on the President to fulfill his promise and shut down the notorious prison.
Last week, President Barack Obama renewed the pledge he made 5 years ago to close Guantanamo. But years of similar statements from the president without any action have left many skeptical.
The briefing is the first to take place since Obama’s pledge, in hopes that it will put pressure on him to act on his words and Congress to participate in greater dialogue and oversight on the prison’s operations.
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With the hunger strike by detainees at Guantanamo Bay entering its twelfth week, some 40 additional US Navy medical forces arrived over the weekend as the facility struggles to cope with force-feedings and ailing prisoners.
According to a Guantanamo spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House, the team of dozens arrived at the prison facility over the weekend, and include nurses and medical specialists.
As of Saturday, the official count on inmates involved in the hunger strike is at 100 out of the total 166 population. Of that number, 21 are being force fed through nasal tubes and five are hospitalized, though military officials will not acknowledge whether any are in life-threatening condition.
Lawyers for several of the detainees believe that the number of hunger strikers at Guantanamo is actually 130, higher than official estimates. Regardless, official numbers on Monday indicate that an additional inmate had been placed on a feeding tube since Saturday.
According to the Miami Herald, the US Navy medical reinforcements arrived in conjunction with an inspection by Red Cross delegates evaluating detainee conditions there.
A lawyer representing Fayiz al-Kandari, 35, claims that his client has been tube-fed against his will for a week. The public defender accused US military personnel of using an “unnecessarily large feeding tube” on the Kuwaiti detainee.
It’s day number 90 for a hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay Prison.
According to the U-S military, at least 100 detainees there, are refusing to eat and are being kept alive through nasogastric intubation: in other words “force-feeding through a nose tube.”
Diane Wilson is an activist who’s highlighting the increasingly dire situation for the 166 detainees at America’s infamous prison in Cuba nicknamed “Gitmo.” She’s on day 5 of her hunger strike that she’s doing in solidarity with the dozens of prisoners there. She’s on a diet of salt water and potassium.
Members of activist groups have been hunger striking on rotation in 24 hour periods. And an online movement has been growing with thousands pledging support each week.
Groups such as CODEPINK and Witness Against Torture have been holding protests and vigils at the White House on a constant basis. They say their activism is being recognized by the Congress and the White House and that the Obama administration is feeling the pressure.
Leaders of the activist groups say they are experiencing a jump in interest from people who are still learning about the health crisis of detainees at Gitmo.
But the dozens of prisoners incarcerated without adjudication aren’t only restricted to Guantanamo. Ali Elghannam stood alongside with protesters to appeal for the release of his brother, an Egyptian national locked inside a Swiss prison without trial since 2007. He was arrested under the guise of the “war on terror” like the men at Gitmo.
US President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay prison but has so far been unsuccessful from his first term attempts. Activists say they will continue to keep the pressure on the president until he keeps his promise. Colin Campbell, Press TV, Washington.
Guantanamo prisoners are presumed guilty even though the US cannot prove it, ex-congressman James Jones told RT, pressing for an end of the indefinite detentions in the notorious jail gripped by a hunger strike.
Guantanamo, America’s infamous prison camp at the US naval base in Cuba, has been under new media scrutiny since February as the hunger strike within the detention facility has been spreading. While the officials have admitted that one hundred of the 166 detainees have joined the action, their lawyers talk of at least 130 of those being involved.
What started as a protest against heavy-handed searches, has grown into an action against indefinite detentions. Over half of detainees have been cleared for release but cannot leave due to various administrative obstacles and fear to die in the prison.
The weakened state of the inmates has already led to the authorities force-feeding them through nasal tubes — a practice which was condemned by the UN’s human rights office as a form of torture.
The co-chair of the Task Force constitution project, former member of the Congress and ambassador to Mexico, James Jones, sat with RT to discuss the Guantanamo issue. He believes indefinite detentions should be stopped and that in the prison the US acts against own declared principles of justice.