The Obama administration came under renewed pressure over its failure to close down the Cuba-based Guantanamo Bay military prison after clashes with guards led to new single-cell arrangements for inmates, and one inmate on a hunger strike against allegedly harsh conditions detailed his experiences in detail in a New York Times op-ed.
After weeks of a tense standoff between prison officials and war-on-terror prisoners, violence was reported to have broken out on Saturday culminating in a raid by guards. Explaining the incident, the military said it had decided to enforce single-space living arrangements for prisoners “in response to efforts by detainees to limit the guard force’s ability to observe the detainees by covering surveillance cameras, windows, and glass partitions.”
The military added that “Some detainees resisted with improvised weapons, and in response, four less-than-lethal rounds were fired... There were no serious injuries to guards or detainees.” The need for closer observation of inmates was reportedly owing to the “ongoing detainee hunger strike,” which necessitated “medical assessments,” the military explained.
The Pentagon’s embarrassment over the hunger strike was however exacerbated when the New York Times published an unprecedented article headlined, “Gitmo Is Killing Me.” Inmate Samir Naji Al Hasan Moqbel (35) described as “cruel punishment” the treatment that was meted out to him when he pressed on with a hunger strike to protest the conditions of his interment.
Arguing that he had been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months despite not ever being charged with any crime or receiving a trial, Mr. Moqbel said, “A squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand.”
He also described the “painful, degrading and unnecessary,” experience of having a catheter inserted into him and also of being force-fed via a tube through his nose.
“There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before,” Mr. Moqbel said.
The revelations come on the back of criticism levelled at President Barack Obama for failing to deliver on his promise to shutter the prison and repatriate or relocate prisoners.
In January, the State Department released a statement that “special envoy Daniel Fried [in charge of the prisoners’ resettlement office] had been reassigned, his office closed, and his responsibilities... given to the... legal adviser.”