The London Guantánamo has been campaigning since 2006 for the return of all British residents from the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, the release of all prisoners, the closure of this prison and other similar prisons and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition. Human rights for all.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
LGC Newsletter – August 2013
Singer PJ Harvey has released a song entitled “Shaker Aamer” to raise
awareness about the case of the last Londoner held in Guantánamo Bay. http://www.nme.com/news/nme/71832
Two prisoners were
returned to Algeria on 29 August. The two men, Nabil Hadjarab, 34, and Mouati
Sayab, 37, were among the first prisoners taken to Guantánamo Bay in 2002 and are
the first to be released in almost one year. Neither had ever faced any charges
or trial. There are no details yet about what has happened to them since their
return to Algeria, however prisoners returned to the country are often held
incommunicado for up to two weeks. Algeria does not give any assurances that it
will not torture or persecute prisoners returned to the country. Former returnees
have seen themselves subject to harassment, unfair trials and further
imprisonment. Algeria is not a safe country for prisoners to return to, which
is why prisoners such as former British resident Ahmed Belbacha have preferred to
remain at Guantánamo Bay. Nabil Hadjarab had been one of the hunger striking
prisoners and was force fed. The number of prisoners is now 164 and this latest
move demonstrates that Barack Obama can free prisoners without being blocked by
Congress when he wishes to.
At the end of August,
the number of prisoners still on hunger strike is reported to be 36, with 32
being force fed by nasal tube. The hunger strike, however, which will shortly
enter its seventh month and which has now been ongoing for longer than 200 days,
is no closer to ending. Many prisoners temporarily ended their hunger strike
during the Muslim month of fasting Ramadan, which ended on 8 August. The US
military considers a prisoner to be on hunger strike when they have skipped 9
consecutive meals, thus if prisoners are taking the odd meal here and there,
they are not considered to be on hunger strike.
According to a new
report by investigative journalist Jason Leopold, “The
U.S. Department of Defense has been urged to rescreen all Guantanamo prisoners
to determine whether heavy doses of an anti-malarial drug administered at the
facility between January 2002 and mid-2005 caused brain damage. The drug,
mefloquine, was tagged last month with an FDA [US Food and Drug Administration]
warning of possible side effects that range from depression and anxiety to
psychosis and even suicide.” The
FDA’s updated warning states: “Neurologic symptoms such
as dizziness or vertigo, tinnitus, and loss of balance have been reported.
These adverse reactions may occur early in the course of mefloquine use and in
some cases have been reported to continue for months or years after mefloquine
has been stopped. Psychiatric symptoms ranging from anxiety, paranoia, and
depression, to hallucinations and psychotic behavior, can occur with mefloquine
use […] Cases of suicidal ideation and suicide have been reported.” It has also been recommended that the seven
so-called cases of “suicide” at Guantánamo Bay are reinvestigated to determine
whether the deaths were linked to mefloquine. The recommended dose is 250
milligrams for an adult with malaria, whereas each prisoner transferred there
was administered 1250 milligrams, and there were only two reported cases of
malaria in the period.
released from Guantánamo Bay have complained about being forced to take
different kinds of drugs against their will over the years of their detention.
continued this month in the cases of five prisoners accused of involvement in
the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001 and the case of Abd Al-Nashiri, accused of
involvement in the bombing of US military vessels off the coast of Yemen in
2000. All six men face the death penalty. Arguments related to what evidence
can be revealed to the defendants, their role in the trials and their lawyers’
ability to represent them as a result. Problems with technological facilities
were also raised. Real trials in both cases are expected to start next year.
installation of the popular Splinter Cell computer game franchise, Blacklist,
involves a sequence where protagonist and super-spy Sam Fisher breaks into
Guantánamo Bay posing as a prisoner, allowing players to torture prisoners. The
visuals of the game provide a close look at the prison camp and as with all
games in the series, a highly biased pro-US military slant.
The August monthly
“Shut Down Guantánamo!” demonstration took place on 1 August and was a
solidarity demonstration with the dozens of prisoners on hunger strike in
California against the state’s policy of using long-term solitary confinement
as a means of punishment for prisoners, sometimes extending decades with
serious physiological and psychological consequences. Solitary confinement is
also used at Guantánamo Bay. Ten people attended this demonstration.
Val Brown from the London Guantánamo
Campaign spoke at the CND’s annual Hiroshima Day event in Tavistock Square on 6th
August to mark the 68th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic
bomb on the city of Hiroshima in Japan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btkIbVaKbro
The London Guantánamo Campaign marked the
200th day of the current Guantánamo hunger strike with a brief
action at the Notting Hill Carnival in west London and an online Twitter storm,
which trended at number 5 in the UK for a while. Activists from the Campaign against
American Bases also held a vigil outside NSA Menwith Hill, a US army base.