Notes Reveal Brutal
Treatment Of Hunger-Striking
Detainees At Guantanamo
Center for Constitutional Rights Contact Mahdis Keshavarz Riptide Communications
"After years in U.S. custody without formal charges or a hearing on the legality of their detention despite a Supreme Court ruling in their favor the hunger-striking detainees at Guantánamo have come to the conclusion that ... "now after four years in captivity, life and death are the same."
NEW YORK - After an emergency court hearing on counsel's right to information regarding the health status and medical treatment of Guantánamo hunger strikers late last week, Julia Tarver, an attorney with the New York City-based law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and cooperating counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights, sought and obtained public release of her declaration regarding the situation at the Guantánamo facility. Tarver's notes detail interviews she conducted at Guantánamo with her clients, Yousef Al Shehri, Abduhl-Rahman Shalabi, and Majid Al Joudi, who are currently engaged in a hunger strike there. The declassified notes reveal the dire conditions of these men. According to Tarver's declaration:
* Force-feedings resulted in prisoners "vomiting up substantial amounts of blood. 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.'"
* "Large tubes - the thickness of a finger - were viewed by detainees as objects of torture. They were forcibly shoved up the detainees' noses and down into their stomachs. Again, no anesthesia or sedative was provided."
* "[D]etainees were verbally abused and insulted and were restrained from head to toe. They had shackles or other restraints on their arms, legs, waist, chest, knees, and head with these restraints in place, they were given intravenous medication (often quite painfully, as inexperienced medical professionals seemed incapable of locating appropriate veins). Their arms were swollen from multiple attempts to stick them with IV needles If detainees moved, they were hit in the chest/heart."
* "In front of Guantánamo physicians - including the head of the detainee hospital - the guards took NG tubes from one detainee, and with no sanitization whatsoever, reinserted it into the nose of a different detainee. When these tubes were reinserted, the detainees could see the blood and stomach bile from other detainees remaining on the tubes. A person detainees only know as Dr. [redacted] stood by and watched these procedures, doing nothing to intervene."
* Detainee Abdul-Rahman communicated that, "one Navy doctor came and put the tube in his nose and down his throat and then just kept moving the tube up and down, until finally Abdul-Rahman started violently throwing up blood. Abdul-Rahman tried to resist the 'torture' from this physician, but he could not breathe."
* Detainees complying with the nasal tube feeding were doing so only because they believed it had been ordered by a U.S. court, a belief that is simply untrue.
After years in U.S. custody without formal charges or a hearing on the legality of their detention - despite a Supreme Court ruling in their favor - the hunger-striking detainees at Guantánamo have come to the conclusion that, according to Abdul-Rahman,"now after four years in captivity, life and death are the same."
While the Center for Constitutional Rights and cooperating habeas counsel have continuously voiced concern for their clients' health given the length of their detention without trial and the conditions of their confinement, the situation has become acutely dangerous since detainees began their latest hunger strike on August 8, 2005. It is unclear how many detainees are on hunger strike at this time, but as many as 200 men have participated at various times.
"What we learned on our last trip to Guantánamo was troubling to us as lawyers, as human beings, and as Americans. We never thought we would see the day when this sort of treatment took place at a facility run by the United States government. It is inconsistent with the rule of law this country was founded upon, and it is inconsistent with the spirit and values of the American people," said Julia Tarver, partner with the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and one of CCR's leading habeas attorneys. Ms. Tarver represents 10 detainees from Saudi Arabia.
CCR cooperating attorneys from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and many other firms have emphasized the life-threatening nature of the situation at Guantánamo. They have informed the court that the DOD has invited representatives of the American Medical Association to visit Guantánamo and investigate the medical treatment provided to prisoners on the hunger strike. The attorneys urged the court to appoint physicians to investigate the medical treatment or to consider allowing counsel to bring their own medical experts to Guantánamo. Attorneys also asked that they be able to accompany the AMA representatives if they go.
"It is both depressing and yet profoundly moving that this hunger strike continues in the face of such horrible adversity. Despite the very real possibility that some of these men may die, it is deeply life-affirming that so many of these detainees living in such dire circumstances are willing to risk their lives and bodies for the sake of basic democratic values that should be, and sadly are not, part of American policy today," said Barbara Olshansky, Deputy Legal Director of the Center of Constitutional Rights.
Center for Constitutional Rights http://www.ccr-ny.org/v2/home.asp