The Guardian 8 February, 2006

Yemeni prisoners
in Guantánamo at point of death

Two of the prisoners on hunger strike on the illegal US military base in Guantánamo are at the point of death, despite attempts by the prison authorities to force feed them, according to legal representatives of the detainees.

A communiqué from the group Reprieve, which defends the rights of the prisoners, states that Yemenis Abu Bakah al-Shamrani and Abu Anas are extremely weak.

"Al-Shamrani only weighs 32 kilograms", the lawyers said.

The lawyers’ collective noted that the so-called Echo Camp, composed of isolation cells, has become an institution for force feeding.

They state that the deterioration of the prisoners’ health is so bad that the gravel road leading to the installation was cemented over to be able to transfer debilitated prisoners in wheelchairs.

British daily The Times highlighted the tragedy of Shaker Aamer, whose wife visited the House of Commons last week to ask MPs to intervene in favour of the detainees.

Aamer, who has British residence, started his hunger strike for a fair trial or his release on November 2 last year.

"The government is refusing to help me. What is the point of my wife being British? The responsibility for my death lies with the British and US governments", are some of the statements given to lawyer Clive Stafford, the legal director of Reprieve, by the detainee.

During a visit to the prison, Stafford witnessed the prisoner pulling out the tube inserted in his nose with evident pain.

The lawyer noted that the tube was 110 centimetres in length and was bloodstained.

Last December a military spokesman acknowledged that 84 prisoners had joined the protest.

Human rights defence groups state that the number of prisoners on hunger strike is much higher than the figure acknowledged by the military command.

The majority of them have been incarcerated for more than three years without having been officially charged or given access to lawyers.


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