Socialist Worker

Guantanamo hunger strike is in its second month

Issue No. 1968

Many of the detainees held without trial in the US camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are so desperate that they have embarked on a hunger strike in order to have their cases heard.

The 200 hunger strikers are simply asking for a fair hearing and are using the only power left to them. There are currently 500 people detained in Guantanamo, many who have been held for over three years without trial or proper legal access.

“They truly feel they have nothing left,” said attorney David Remes, who represents several Yemeni detainees. “I’m not sure what the end point will be. But I do predict there will be death.”

Binyam Mohammed, formerly of London, told his attorney, “I do not plan to stop until I die or we are respected. People will definitely die.”

One of the prisoners currently on hunger strike is Omar Deghayes. He has been held in Guantanamo since September 2002 after being arrested in Pakistan.

His father was a Libyan trade union leader who was murdered by the Libyan secret police in March 1980 — after which the family fled to Britain.

Omar has had refugee status in the UK since 1987, and his family are all British citizens — yet the British government has refused to intervene in his case.

His brother Abu Baker Deghayes spoke to Socialist Worker about the conditions Omar faces in Guantanamo.

“Our solicitor, Clive Stafford Smith, told us the sad news that my brother Omar and other detainees are on the fifth week of a hunger strike because of the oppressive situation and terrible treatment in Guantanamo.

“They’re denying them all their rights as human beings.

“The whole family feels very helpless and really worried.

“We’re concerned that our government is not doing anything, and doesn’t seem to be trying to do anything, to solve our problems.

“They’re turning a blind eye to oppression and injustice.

“We’re having the Labour Party conference here in Brighton in a couple of weeks.

“The Justice for Omar Deghayes campaign is planning to do something at the conference, to express our voices to the people responsible.

“We’ve been lobbying our local MP, Des Turner. He promised to arrange a meeting with the home secretary, to get him to meet with Clive Stafford Smith.

“Unfortunately Des Turner hasn’t been successful — he says that after what happened in London, the home secretary is too busy.

“There’s also an Early Day Motion that’s received some support — ten to 15 MPs have signed it. People should lobby their local MPs to sign it too.

“We’ve experienced the loss of my father in conditions of injustice and oppression. He was a lawyer and a trade union activist, a campaigner for human rights and democracy.

“We don’t want to lose a brother in similar conditions.

“It’s heartbreaking. He’s not entitled to anything, no courts, no rights whatsoever. The US is supposed to be the most democratic country in the world, but it’s the same situation as being in a dictatorship.

“I’m planning to be on the 24 September Stop the War demonstration. We try to use every occasion to highlight what’s happening to my brother, because what he’s going through is very risky.”

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Sat 17 Sep 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1968
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