Openness at Guantanamo Darkens, Again; Detainees Allege They’ve Been Tortured

By on December 6, 2013

by Ezra Van Auken

Remember the hunger strikes earlier this year at the Guantanamo Bay prison? Well, after a decision by the Pentagon to no longer disclose reports related to hunger strikes, there’s not going to be much to remember. On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesperson Commander John Fiolstrat confirmed Pentagon officials would no longer provide reports or confirmations of hunger strikes.

Fiolstrat’s announcement came because, according to the Pentagon, releasing reports on hunger strikes serves “no operational purpose” and “detracts from the more important issues”. Following up, spokesperson Fiolstrat noted that the welfare and safety of detainees and troops is more imperative than the report of strikes, despite health issues and strikes seemingly going hand-in-hand.

Currently, the rather buttoned up prison holds 164 men, most of whom are distinctively uncharged with any crime. During the hunger strike, about 106 detainees participated in the demonstration, at the height. The last report released before the Pentagon’s announcement showed the hunger strike count at 15, and since Fiolstrat’s introduction into the Pentagon, numbers have only grown darker.

Adding fuel to the fire for human rights advocates, Fiolstrat said, “JTF-Guantánamo allows detainees to peacefully protest but will not further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public,” implying that media attention has only given detainees leverage. However, Fiolstrat wouldn’t provide detail to any of his statements, nor would the spokesperson allude to who ordered the move.

Lawyers and human rights proponents believe the hunger strikes came as prison conditions became harsh for detainees.

Guantanamo certainly isn’t the only secret prison under US supervision. And, as the Cuban prison closes up its transparency of detainees a tad more, reports from the once-CIA prisons in Poland surface. In fact, two men currently being held at Guantanamo are alleging that while staying in Poland, they were tortured at CIA prisons in Poland.

Ex-affiliates with al-Qaeda, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, both accuse US counterparts with torture while being held in Poland, according to lawyers representing the detainees. Detainee Nashiri’s representing lawyer Amrit Singh said torture during Nashiri’s imprisonment in Poland ranged from mock executions to threats against his family members; including threat to capture and sexually assault family.

Singh said, “These acts occurred on Polish territory with the acquiescence and connivance of the Polish authorities,” going on to declare Nashiri’s case would break the silence of conspiracy.

The open-ended efforts of court cases and justice for human rights violations has been going on since 2008, particular to this case, but Singh feels progress is being made. Hoping to see results, Singh believes her client would have a positive decision by September 2014.

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