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Update on Guantánamo: Hunger strike ends but Amnesty remains concerned about welfare of detainees
Amnesty International has received a statement from a detainee in Guantánamo Bay, reporting that an unknown number of detainees resumed their hunger strike on 12 August.

According to the statement, from UK resident Benyam Mohamed al-Habashi, the strike resumed after the US military broke a number of promises it made in July to secure the end of the first hunger strike.

In his statement, which was recently unclassified by the US authorities, Benyam Mohamed al-Habashi said: "[The US authorities] have betrayed our trust. Therefore the strike must begin again...I do not plan to stop until I either die or we are respected. People will definitely die".

Background

When detainees decided to end the initial hunger strike on 28 July they claimed that the US administration had agreed to bring the prison camp into compliance with the Geneva Conventions within 10 days, and they had been told this had been personally approved by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The latest hunger strike began because the detainees remain unable to challenge their detention and their continuing harsh treatment by US guards at the camp. In his statement, Benyam Mohamed al Habashi noted two particularly brutal removals of detainees from their cells by a group of prison camp guards known as the Extreme Reaction Force: one of a Kuwaiti detainee, and the other of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has been in Guantánamo Bay since 2002, when he was 15 years old.

He also states that a detainee from Morocco called Hisham was "savagely beaten in his interrogation" and that this was another cause of the detainees restarting the hunger strike. In addition, it appears that other concessions made by the US military, including the establishment of a committee of detainees who have regular meetings with the authorities at the prison camp, have not been implemented.

Benyam Mohamed al Habashi claims that "we [the hunger strikers] ask only for justice: treat us, as promised, under the rules of the Geneva Conventions...while we are held, and either try us fairly for a valid criminal charge or set us free"

About Guantánamo Bay

Detainees held as part of the "War on terror" began to be held in Guantánamo Bay on 11 January 2002. More than 750 people have since been detained there, of whom about 500, of some 35 nationalities, remain in the base.

None of the Guantánamo detainees has had the lawfulness of their detention subjected to judicial review, a year after the US Supreme Court ruled that the US courts have jurisdiction to hear appeals from them.

Take action
Please send a letter to the US authorities:

  • expressing concern at reports that detainees in Guantánamo Bay have resumed their hunger strike because the promises made to them by the US authorities were not kept, and the fact that detainees are still unable to challenge the legality of their detention;
  • calling on US authorities to investigate all alleged acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in Guantánamo Bay, and for those responsible for such acts to be brought to justice;
  • calling for detainees to be released unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and tried in full accordance with international standards for a fair trial;
  • calling for an independent, impartial investigation into "war on terror" detentions, including into allegations of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, secret and incommunicado detention and illegal transfers of detainees to countries where torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is common;
  • calling on the US authorities to close the Guantánamo detention facility, and for all US "war on terror" detention facilities to be opened up to external independent scrutiny

    Addresses:

      President George W. Bush
      The White House
      1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
      Washington DC 20500
      USA
      E-mail: comments@whitehouse.gov
      Fax: 001 202 456 2461
      Salutation: Dear President Bush

      Donald Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense
      The Pentagon
      Washington DC 20301
      USA
      Fax: 00 1 703 697 8339
      Salutation: Dear Secretary of Defense

      Please send appeals immediately.

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