Close Down Guantanamo
June 24, 2006
On Friday night, 9 of June 2006, it was reported by the US military that three men, two Saudi nationals and a Yemeni, committed suicide at Camp 1 in Guantanamo Bay.
Detainees in Camp 1 are held in cages with very thin wire mesh. The men died by strangulation with their bed-sheets - a lawyer who has seen these conditions said that the mesh is far too thin to fit a sheet through. The only way they could have strangulated themselves is to have tied the sheets to their toilets and literally pulled until they strangled themselves. This raises the question of how they died.
These men were also held without access to the outside world - they had little, if any, communication with their families through censored letters and did not have access to legal representation, hence little is known about their cases. It is not known if they were taking part in the hunger strike and if this could have contributed to their deaths.
On Sunday, a US Interior Ministry statement identified the two Saudis as 30 year old Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi al-Utaybi and 21 year old Yassar Talal al-Zahrani, but gave no further details about them. The Yemeni citizen was identified as 28 year old Ali Abdullah Ahmed.
The US army described this act of desperation as "an act of asymmetrical warfare" and a "PR stunt" by Al-Qaeda operatives being held at Guantanamo. After four years of torture and abuse, no evidence has been presented to substantiate that any of the detainees were with Al-Qaeda and less than 10 of the over 450 men held there have been charged and none have been put on trial.
Abu Bakr Deghayes, brother of Brighton resident Omar Deghayes, said, "We are very worried about Omar. In the four years he has been held in Guantanamo we have had so little news from him. We know he was desperate enough to join the hunger strike last year.
There should be access for families to see detainees, especially after such a terrible incident. We ask for an independent investigation into the sad deaths of these three men."
In recent months, there have been many calls at all levels for the closure of Guantanamo, from national governments, human rights NGOs, the European Union and the United Nations. These calls need to be translated into concrete action on the part of all world government to close the camp and have all the detainees currently held there returned to countries where they will not face further torture and abuse.
This action needs to be taken urgently to avoid any further fatalities.
An international day of protest is being organised for the 15th of July when several demonstrations are planned where we anticipate simultaneous delivery of the copies of this petition to be handed to the US embassies across the world.
We, the undersigned, demand the following of the American Administration:
1. That the American Administration allow an independent enquiry into the deaths of these three young men. The enquiry to be constituted under the auspices of an internationally recognised independent authority like the United Nation's Human Rights Commission.
2. That all those currently held at Guantanamo be immediately sent to countries where they will not face further abuses of their basic human rights and before further tragedy strikes.
3. That the families of all the detainees held at Guantanamo be given access to their loved ones still held at Guantanamo.
4. That all the detainees be given access to medical personnel for an independent assessment of their health.
5. That Guantanamo and other illegally constituted prisons where individuals are held without access to a properly constituted legal process be closed immediately.
The Close Down Guantanamo petition to President George Bush was written by Birmingham Guantanamo Campaign and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.