UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

February 25, 2009

REPORT FINDS CONTINUED ABUSE AT GITMO

William Fisher, Anti War - A leading human rights organization charges that, contrary to recent U.S. government reports that found prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, being treated humanely, they are in fact "deteriorating at a rapid rate" due to "harsh conditions that continue to this day, despite a few cosmetic changes to their routines."

The Center for Constitutional Rights released a report on the current conditions in Camps 5, 6, and Echo following a press conference convened late last week by Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, the vice chief of naval operations. In his own report on conditions at Guantanamo, delivered to the White House, Walsh determined that conditions at the base meet the standards of the Geneva Conventions.

CCR's report disputes that conclusion. . . CCR Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei said the Gitmo detainees "are caught in a vicious cycle where their isolation causes psychological damage, which causes them to act out, which brings more abuse and keeps them in isolation. If they are going to be there another year, or even another day, this has to end."

"Detainees at Guantanamo have continued to suffer from solitary confinement, psychological abuse, abusive force-feeding of hunger strikers, religious abuse, and physical abuse and threats of violence from guards and Immediate Reaction Force teams," the report charged.

It claimed the majority of the men being detained "are in isolation. They go weeks without seeing the sun. Fluorescent lights, however, remain on 24 hours a day in Camp 5." . . .

The CCR report takes issue with two recent U.S. government pronouncements. On Feb. 13, Colonel Bruce Vargo, commander of the Joint Detention Group at Guantanamo, stated that "There are no solitary confinement detention areas" at Gitmo, and "Detainees typically are able to communicate with other detainees either face-to-face or by spoken word from their cells throughout the day."

CCR attorneys say this means that the men can yell through the metal food slot in the solid steel doors of their cells when it is left open and through the crack between the door and the floor. . . . . .

The CCR report said hunger strikes continue among a large number of men at Guantanamo. "Hunger strikers are brutally force-fed using a restraint chair and often unsanitary feeding tubes, and are beaten for refusing food, a practice that continued within the last month and a half." Force-feeding hunger strikers is considered by the World Medical Association to be a violation of medical ethics and has continued unabated since President Barack Obama's executive order to close the prison. . .

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