Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hunger Strike At Guantanamo-Plus Update

The latest hunger strike at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, involves 89 detainees, which the US military has confirmed.
The hunger strike was sparked off last month when as many as 4 prisoners were driven to attempt to commit suicide on May 18th. That same day, when a group of about 10 prisoners in another section of the prison reportedly rioted after guards tried to prevent another detainee from hanging himself, the guards used rubber bullets, pepper spray, & sponge grenades to subdue them.
Navy Commander Robert Durand is calling the latest hunger strike an "attention getting" tactic to try & put pressure for the inmates release.
Defense attorneys & human rights activists say that Guantanamo's est. 460 prisoners are under enormous psychological stress & are increasingly desperate to end their misery, even if it means suicide.
Mnay of the prisoners have been imprisoned for 4 years with no end in sight.
Only 10 Guantanamo prisoners have been charged with any crimes, & they face a trial before military tribunals. The rest are living in "legal limbo".
The hunger strike, used to get attention to the prisoners plight, have in the past made US officials respond violently.
Last fall, around 210 prisoners went on a hunger strike & in response, the military began using force feeding to try & get the prisoners to stop their protests. It is reported that US troops violently inserted dirty nasogastric tubes up prisoners noses & into their stomachs. Defense lawyer, Julia Tarver said, " When they vomited up blood, the soldiers mocked and cursed at them, and taunted them with statements like " look what your religion has brought you"."
The US military admits that there are at least 6 prisoners currently being force fed. These revelations about the hunger strike come as new allegations surface about the number of children that the US has imprisoned at Guantanamo.
According to Britain's 'Independent', as many as 60 children under the age of 18 have been detained at Guantanamo at different times over the past 4 years. At least 10 of them still held there are thought to have been 14 or 15 years old when they were first captured, "including child soldiers who were held in solitary confinement, repeatedly interrogated and allegedly tortured", reported the 'Independent'.
15 year old Canadian-born Omar Khadr, is an example. He was arrested in 2002, accused of killing a US soldier with a grenade. He has been kept in solitary confinement.
Because prisoners have been held for so long, all of the children thought to have been at Guantanamo, are now believed to have reached 18 years of age.
Both the UN & Geneva Conventions prohibit holding children in such detention centers.Pentagon officials defend the practice of detaining children at the prison, saying , "There is no international standard concerning the age of an individual who engages in combat operations" , Senior Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Commander Jeffrey Gordon told the 'Independent'. "Age is not a determining factor in detention of those engaged in armed conflict against our forces or in support to those fighting against us."
There is a general recognition in the civilized world, that children should be treated differently than adults.
But what's so civilized about the US treatment of it's prisoners?

Update:

3 Guantanamo prisoners were found dead today. They apparently hanged themselves with nooses made of sheets & clothes, said the Commander of the detention center.