84 prisoners, or more than half of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, are now refusing food and water as part of a hunger strike that began on February 6, 2013 as a response to a search by officials of prisoners' Qurans for contraband. Only 6 prisoners have been officially charged with a crime, begging the question to President Obama — when will he fulfil his 2008 campaign promise and close Guantanamo?
This New York Times op-ed by a currently striking Guantanamo prisoner was buried last week by the events of the Boston bombing, but now 32 prisoners have joined the strike since last Wednesday. 35-year-old Yemeni Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel described the force-feeding that 16 striking prisoners are now being put through:
"As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone," he vividly wrote.
"I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I'm sleeping," described Moqbel, higlighting how the prisoners are now being treated with further aggression from prison officials due to the strike.
He is among the majority of prisoners that have yet to be charged with a crime and is not seen as a threat to the United States. Nonetheless, he is being detained because of a moratarium on repatriation of Yemeni inmates approved by President Obama. Many prisoners have joined this strike to protest being in the prison, some for over 11 years, without a formal charge or sufficient evidence for a fair trial.
This situation continues to represent the fickleness on the account of President Obama, who has presided over a worsening of conditions for the prisoners since taking office. His campaign promises have amounted to nothing for British prisoner Shaker Amer, who appealed in exasperated anguish against the disturbing state of affairs at Guantanamo, asking "Please … torture me in the old way. Here they destroy people mentally and physically without leaving marks."
A detainee has even been shot in the neck by a guard this year. If we are unable to provide sufficient evidence to hold these inmates, are we not making the situation worse by continuing to imprison and torture them?
This excellent infographic by the Century Foundation details the failure of Guantanamo, and the failure of the Obama administration to deal with it. What do you think?
Discuss below or tweet @shwetika and discuss whether President Obama has failed in managing the Guantanamo Bay prison