A grave crisis is currently unfolding at the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay. CCR has heard directly from our clients and attorneys for other men that men detained at Guantánamo are participating in a widespread hunger-strike that has been taking place since early February, and some men are now in critical condition. The unfolding crisis at Guantánamo cannot be divorced from the fact that the vast majority of the 166 remaining prisoners have been held for more than 11 years without any charge or fair trial, and with no end to their detention in sight.
CCR attorneys and others who have visited the prison or spoken to their clients report that during the hunger strike men have lost drastic weight, on average between 30 to 40 pounds, and dozens have lost consciousness. If the hunger strike continues, the effects of prolonged starvation, combined with the trauma of indefinite detention, may result in irreversible physical and psychological harm, and even death. Despite these alarming reports, the military continues to deny the seriousness of the strike and refuses to meaningfully engage with us regarding our clients’ concerns. In recent statements to the press, JTF-GTMO officials have accused prisoners of manipulation, dismissing the hunger strike as a “weapon” and “tactic” employed by detainees to garner media attention.
The government’s effective non-response to the hunger strike so far is unacceptable. The President who once condemned Guantánamo’s shameful history of prisoner mistreatment and promised to rapidly close Guantánamo should direct Defense Department authorities to take immediate and meaningful steps to address the situation at hand. And ultimately, the solution to the crisis is to shutter the prison once and for all.
Now is a critical time to raise your voice and help us build political pressure to end the immense suffering at Guantánamo, and to shut the prison down.
1) Sign this petition to close Guantánamo, which is gaining unprecedented support at this critical time.
2) Organize Through Social Media Change your facebook profile photo to this profile photo and/or your facebook cover photo to this cover photo, and let your friends and networks know about the unfolding hunger strike and the 166 men still trapped at Guantánamo.
3) Tweet: President @BarackObama @WhiteHouse Keep your promise: #closegitmo #GitmoHungerStrike
4) Join a Vigil or Organize Your Own
Vigils have been held in more than 26 cities and 19 states. Use CCR’s signage kit to hold a vigil in your own town. Take photos and send them to CCR at .
5) Call the White House and U.S. Military
* Contact the White House and tell President Obama that he must fulfill his promise to shut down Guantánamo. Call (202) 456-1111 or submit a comment online. Tell him, “President Obama, there is an unfolding humanitarian crisis at Guantánamo. I urge you to act swiftly to fulfill your promise to close the prison by releasing the men you will not charge and by giving fair trials to those you will. You should appoint a high level officer in the White House to lead the closure effort, direct the Secretary of Defense to use his authority under the law to release men who will not be charged, and lift your own self-imposed blanket ban on sending Yemeni men home.”
* Call the U.S. Southern Command to express concern about the hunger-strikers and demand that General Kelly work with JTF-GTMO to humanely end the strike by addressing the prisoners’ concerns: (305) 437-1213
* Contact Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel and demand that he use his authority under the law to resume transferring all of the men the Obama administration does not intend to charge. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2013) gives Secretary Hagel the authority to certify men or issue waivers so they can be released from Guantánamo, and he must use this authority without further delay. Leave Secretary Hagel a message at the Department of Defense by calling (703) 571-3343 or by submitting a comment online.
On April 11, CCR and 24 other prominent human rights groups sent a joint letter to Obama to take appropriate steps to legally and humanely end the hunger strikes and shutter the prison. The full letter and list of signatories can be found here.
Read the two letters written by CCR and other lawyers representing detained men to Secretary of Defense Hagel (March 14, 2013) and to the heads of Joint Task Force Guantánamo (March 4, 2013), along with Amnesty International’s letter (March 22, 2013) to the Secretary of Defense. And on April 1, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense responded to the lawyers’ March 14 letter.
CCR Press Releases:
April 30, 2013
April 26, 2013:
Gitmo Lawyers Applaud AMA’s Condemnation of Force Feeding
April 15, 2013:
Retaliation for Guantánamo Hunger Strike Grows
Stop force-feeding inmates and close Guantánamo (Op-ed by CCR’s Executive Director Vincent Warren, CNN May 10, 2013)
Photos from Guantanamo’s force-feeding facilities (Washington Post, May 10, 2013)
A new chance to act on Guantanamo (CNN, May 9, 2013)
A cook’s Guantanamo nightmare (AUDIO & TEXT) (CNN, May 9, 2013)
Carl Levin says Guantanamo closing would be helped by new Obama envoy (Huffington Post, May 9, 2013)
How one detainee got trapped in legal limbo at Guantanamo (VIDEO) (CNN, May 8, 2013)
Guantanamo’s Collapse (Huffington Post, May 8, 2013)
Obama can close Guantanamo. Here’s how (Bloomberg, May 7, 2013)
Ahmed Errachidi: My 5 Years at Guantanamo (BBC News, May 7, 2013)
Basu: Guantanamo detainees need due process (Newsday, May 7, 2013)
It’s your turn: Americans must demand closure of Guantánamo facility (Boston Globe, May 6, 2013)
Yemen Human Rights Minister to Washington for Guantanamo talks (Miami Herald, May 6, 2013)
Inside Guantánamo: an unprecedented rebellion leaves a notorious detention centre in crisis (The Independent, May 5, 2013)
Open letter from former Guantanamo prisoners (The Guardian, May 4, 2013)
Former Detainee Talks of Desperation in Guantanamo Bay (NPR, May 4, 2013)
Guantanamo: It’s Obama’s Disgrace Now (Salon, May 4, 2013)
How Guantanamo’s horror forced inmates to hunger strike (The Guardian, May 4, 2013)
Guantanamo Bay: Enough to make you Gag (Editorial from The Economist, May 4, 2013)
Close Guantanamo Now! (VIDEO) (CNN, May 3, 2013)
Send Judges to Guantanamo, then Shut It (New York Times, May 3, 2013)
Guantanamo Camp Costs $900,000 a Year Per Inmate (Huff Post, May 3, 2013)
To Save These Men, Free Them (Op-ed by CCR’s Executive Director Vincent Warren, New York Times, May 2, 2013)
Gitmo Hunger Strike [VIDEO] (Colbert Report, May 2, 2013)
John Stewart Jabs Obama’s Guantanamo Failure [VIDEO] (Huff Post, May 2, 2013)
Obama’s Options for Closing Guantanamo Explored (Huff Post, May 2, 2013)
Guantanamo hunger strike renews debates over administrative detention, ethics of force-feeding (Washington Post, May 2, 2013)
US drone strikes being used as alternative to Guantanamo, lawyer says (The Guardian, May 2, 2013)
Twenty-three Guantanamo hunger strikers being force-fed (Interview with CCR’s Pardiss Kebriaei, CBS, May 1, 2013)
Congressman Steve Israel: “Endless detention is not a good idea’ (MSNBC, May 1, 2013)
A Hundred Hungry Men at Guantanamo (The New Yorker, May 1, 2013)
Is it medically ethical to force-feed Guantanamo Detainees? (CNN, May 1, 2013)
Former Guantanamo chief prosecutor petitions Obama to close prison camp (The Guardian, May 1, 2013)
Obama Renews Guantanamo Closure Vow, Defends Force-Feeding (Democracy Now, May 1, 2013)
The President and the Hunger Strike (New York Times Editorial Board, April 30, 2013)
President Obama must make closing Guantanamo a priority (Washington Post Editorial Board, April 30, 2013)
The Anti-Prisoners’ Dilemma: Obama & Congress are Chickening Out on Gitmo (The Atlantic Wire, April 30, 2013)
Obama on Gitmo: I don’t want prisoners to die (MSNBC, April 30, 2013)
Obama’s Catastrophic Guantánamo Failure (CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy, The Daily Beast, April 29, 2013)
A Desperate Situation at Guantánamo: Over 130 Prisoners on Hunger Strike, Dozens Being Force-Fed (Democracy Now, April 29, 2013)
100 Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Recognized by U.S. Military (The Huffington Post, April 27, 2013)
Red Cross arrrives at Guantánamo as hunger strike hits 100 mark The Miami Herald, April 27, 2013)
Former State Department Official: Team Bush knew many at Gitmo were Innocent (The Atlantic, April 26, 2013)
Cleared for Release but Denied Freedom- Shaker Aamer and Guantanamo Bay (HuffPost, April 26, 2013)
Guantanamo strike sparks outcry in Yemen (Al Jazeera, April 25, 2013)
The Guantanamo Stain (New York Times Editorial Board, April 25, 2013)
… the country must recognize the steep price being paid for what is essentially a political prison. Just as hunger strikes at the infamous Maze Prison in Northern Ireland indelibly stained Britain’s human rights record, so Guantánamo stains America’s.
Dianne Feinstein: Guantanamo Desperation ‘Unprecedented’ (The Huffington Post, April 25, 2013)
Kafka at Gitmo: Why 86 Prisoners are Cleared for Release but might not ever get it (The Washington Post, April 25, 2013)
Despair Drives Guantanamo Detainees to Revolt (New York Times, April 24, 2013)
Guantánamo Hunger Strike Grows to 92 Detainees, Military Says (HuffPost, April 24, 2013)
Hunger-striking Guantanamo prisoners near death (CNN, April 23, 2013)
Shaker Aamer and the Dirty Secrets of the War on Terror (The Guardian, April 23, 2013)
Life at Guantanamo, and What Happens Next (Slate, April 23, 2013)
U.S. sending more medics to Guantanamo as hunger strike grows (Reuters, April 22, 2013)
Half of Guantánamo detainees on hunger strike (BBC News, April 22, 2013)
Shaker Aamer: ‘I may have to die. I hope not. I want to see my family again’ (CCR client Shaker Aamer speaks on his condition at Guantánamo, The Independent, April 21, 2013)
America’s disgraceful treatment of Gitmo detainees (The Chicago Tribune, April 21, 2013)
America cannot assert moral authority while Guantánamo remains open (The Guardian Editorial Board, April 20, 2013)
Guantánamo Bay: why can’t Shaker Aamer return home to London? (The Guardian, April 20, 2013)
President Obama Must Act to Close Guantánamo (CCR’s Wells Dixon, The Hill, April 18, 2013)
The process of dying is never easy or painless. Death by starvation is particularly grueling: the body cannibalizes fat and tissue, wasting to skin and bones, leading to dehydration, incoherence and, ultimately, heart failure. It is a slow and agonizing ordeal, even for the most committed hunger striker. It took IRA member and British MP Bobby Sands more than two months to die in Maze prison when he starved himself to death in 1981. And for those who are force-fed, the process is even more excruciating; they may endure as food is pumped up their noses and into their stomachs like a veal calf, but eventually they will die as well.
I fear that such death is near for many of the men held without charge or trial at Guantánamo Bay, including my client Djamel Ameziane …
Gitmo is Killing Me (New York Times op-ed by Guantánamo hunger striking detainee, April 14, 2013)
Hunger Strike at Gitmo: “We are Dying a Slow Death Here” (CCR’s Pardiss Kebriaei on msnbc, April 13, 2013)
I met with men who are weak and have lost between 30 and 40 pounds. They told me of other men who are skeletal and barely moving, who have coughed up blood, passed out, and one who tried to hang himself.
Has Obama Given Up on Closing Guantánamo? (CCR’s Pardiss Kebriaei on All in with Chris Hayes, April 8, 2013)
As Obama, Congress Move on, Guantanamo is still a Problem (Boston Globe Editorial Board, April 6, 2013)
I’m a bit of a professional hunger striker, I’ve done it so often: A Guantánamo inmate since 2002, Shaker Aamer explains why he’s joined the other detainees in a hunger strike (Shaker Aamer, New Statesman, April 5, 2013)
If you chase life, it has a habit of running away from you. When I complied with the picayune rules in Guantánamo, it never did any good. Though I was cleared for release almost six years ago now … I am still here.
Right now, none of us is chasing life down here, but it may run away from us anyway. Some people are going to die in this hunger strike soon. People have been sending messages home, thinking these might be their last messages in this life.
So it’s the worst of times here, but actually it’s the best of times. Everyone is more united than they have ever been. Yes, they can break our bodies; but I think maybe, just maybe, we’ve finally learned that they cannot break our spirit.
Hunger Strike at Guanánamo Bay (New York Times Editorial Board, April 5, 2013)
U.N. Official Calls for Closing of Guantanamo Bay (Rolling Stone, April 5, 2013)
Pillay Says Guantánamo Detention Regime is “In Clear Breach of International Law” and Should Be Closed (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, April 5, 2013)
Guantánamo Hunger Strike Grows (All In with Chris Hayes, April 4, 2013)
Déjà vu: Defense Officials Downplay Growing Guantánamo Hunger Strike With Bush-Era Talking Points (Jason Leopold, Truthout, April 1, 2013)
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is Asking Questions About Guantánamo the US Cannot Answer” (CCR’s Executive Director Vincent Warren, Huffington Post, March 21, 2013)
Over 100 Guantánamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike, Citing Threat of Return to ‘Darkest Days Under Bush.’ Video interview with CCR Senior Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei (Democracy Now, March 13, 2013)
As Gitmo Prisoners Revolt, Obama Administration Challenged on Indefinite Detention at OAS Hearing. Video interview with CCR attorneys Pardiss Kebriaei and Omar Farah (Democracy Now, March 13, 2013)
Watch CCR Senior Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei’s interview about the hunger strike (Huffington Post Live, March 26, 2013).
Watch CCR’s President Emeritus Michael Ratner’s interview about the hunger strike (The Real News Network, March 21, 2013).
The Center for Constitutional Rights currently represents nine prisoners at Guantánamo, including Djamel Ameziane, Fahd Ghazy, Tariq Ba Odah, Mohammed Al-Hamiri, and Ghaleb Al Bihani. CCR has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for the last 11 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that nearly all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts. In addition, CCR has been working through diplomatic channels to resettle men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.