Monday, June 19, 2006

More about those suicides at Gitmo

No need to go into background information. Most readers already know (or imagine they do) and have formed opinions. I took cynical note of the event at the time. Like it or not, anything happening at Guantanamo is happening in the name of every American. I, for one, don't like being associated with the story.

Here is a followup from a critical source.

...somehow, in circumstances that the Pentagon has succeeded in keeping totally obscure, late on Friday, 9 June, three detainees, all weak and emaciated after months on hunger strike and being force-fed, managed to tease bedsheets through their cells' mesh walls, tie them into nooses and hang themselves. With the cells little taller than the height of a man, they stood no chance of breaking their necks: the only way they could die was slowly, by hypoxia.

'That would take at least four or five minutes, probably longer,' said Dr David Nicholl, consultant neurologist at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, who has been co-ordinating international opposition to Guantanamo by physicians. 'It's very difficult to see how, if the landing was being properly patrolled, they could have managed to accomplish it.'

Shafiq Rasul is a former prisoner, er, detainee from Guantanamo. He is the source of a good deal of information in this story from Britain. Since he was there it means he hasn't much credibility for anyone who wants to argue against what he says...except that he has the advantage of having been an eye witness, personally observing and experiencing what he relates.
Rasul said: 'I was shocked by what happened, though not surprised, because I saw it almost happen so often. It was always scary: I would see people deteriorating mentally in front of my eyes until they tried to take their own lives, and you always thought: "That could be me". There were even times when I thought about it myself, but I wanted to be strong for my family. When I did, believe me, it wasn't because I was trying to hurt the United States, but on days when I'd just been told I'd never see England again, and that I was a terrorist, and when I denied it they wouldn't listen.'

This is a sad, sad report. Speculation upon speculation. When direct observation is denied, all that remains is speculation. It is reasonable to conclude that if that speculation is in error it can be contradicted by revealing the facts.
According to newly declassified testimony by another prisoner shortly before the suicides, a guard recently told him: 'They have lost hope in life. They have no hope in their eyes. They are ghosts and they want to die. No food will keep them alive right now.' This prisoner, the former British resident Shaker Aamer, told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that the three dead men and other hunger strikers were so ill whenever their feeds contained protein that it went 'right through them' causing severe diarrhoea.

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