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Hunger-striking Guantanamo prisoners near death

April 23rd, 2013
11:53 AM ET

By Samuel Burke & Claire Calzonetti CNN

The term enemy combatant has become a familiar one since 9/11, after it was used for detainees who were sent to Guantanamo Bay.

Dozens of prisoners at that detention camp are currently on their tenth week of a hunger strike.

American authorities there say that 84 – half of the prisoners – are not eating.

Carlos Warner, a public defender who represents 11 of the detainees, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday that multiple sources tell him that the number is actually 130 of the 166 prisoners; he is afraid many of them will die soon. 

“And let's remember, 86 of these men have been cleared for release,” Warner told Amanpour. “They've been accused of nothing. They are not only innocent, but the government has agreed they're not dangerous to release.”

Two detainees have attempted suicide by hanging themselves, Guantanamo spokesman Capt. Robert Durand told CBS News.

Yemeni prisoner Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel wrote an op-ed in The New York Time under the headline “Gitmo Is Killing Me.”

The prisoner, who has been there for 11 years, claims he has done nothing wrong and describes being force-fed while on hunger strike.

"They're shoving a tube down their noses and force-feeding them with Ensure,” Warner said. “I believe that the majority of the camp is being fed this way.”

Warner, who described himself as a liberal who supported President Obama, is disappointed that Obama has completely ignored Guantanamo.
He rejected Obama’s assertion that blame rests on Congressional Republicans for the current state of affairs at Guantanamo.

“There's not one person in this administration that I can call and say I need to talk somebody in the White House about the hunger strike,” Warner previously told Amanpour.

The military has mishandled the situation, as well, Warner said, citing details of a recent raid officials carried out in order to move the detainees into individual cells. Warner said this probably just exacerbated the already fragile situation.

“It's not [the military’s] fault. This is President Obama's fault. However, the military's doing all the wrong things,” Warner said of the military rejecting his offer to help deescalate the situation. “I'm imploring the military to use us, the people that know these men, to come down and negotiate a solution. We can do it. And we need the president's support, frankly. The president needs to intervene here and end this strike for the good of humanity.”

Filed under:  Guantanamo • Latest Episode
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Vivienne Leijonhufvud

    First Christiane Amanpour is a great Journalist. Why are these guys starving themselves if they are innocent? I am sure the US government will release them in their own good time. We are living in a dangerous world and these innocent guys compatriots don't do them any good. A new look has to be taken at Terrorism and the Islamic Ideals backing it.

    April 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Reply
    • Parm

      So you would be fine with being innocent and living in hell? Many of them were innocent people and brought there and went through some of the most horrible things you could imagine and your telling them not to worry theyl be freed when the government feels like it. Wow people have completely lost all common sense and compassion for others.

      April 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Reply
      • Carlos

        I agree 100%.

        April 24, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Frank

      Please reread what you just wrote again and again until it clicks. Thank you.

      April 23, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Reply
      • Carlos

        If you were in that pack I don't think you would be such a logic individuo.

        April 24, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • sarah-louise

      Poor Vivienne...

      April 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  2. mimi champlin

    Agreed, Parm

    April 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  3. Ahmar

    USA = Unjustified Shocking Agonizing. Thanks Mr. Obama, you renamed United States of America. Since you have already been elected twice, you don't need to seek the votes of those people who believe in justice and equal rights for every body, and selected you for the first time, thinking that you could do that in US. Enjoy your full term presidency, Mr. Obama, and don't worry about these poor chaps, who probably don't even remember why were did they end up in here at the first place. Sleep on Mr. Obama, sleep on!

    April 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Reply
    • Infidel *****

      Ahmad ??? Muslim are u? That explains everything...thanks for nothing..

      April 23, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Reply
      • Carlos

        Was that descrimination? Human rights goes beyond nations and religion.

        April 24, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  4. Joe

    I'm all for the principle of 'Innocent until proven guilty'. But when we know that many of the guys held in there have the potential of bringing down a plane (or worse) if mistakenly released, I understand that the government is being careful.
    I do feel bad for the ones who might be innocent, but instead of blaming the US government for their situation, they should blame the terrorists who are held with them and started the whole thing.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Reply
    • Ahmar

      Well, with a 'But" you already contradicted your own principle of 'Innocent until proven guilty'. Bush Survived with a complete war (in which so many American and non-American lives were lost) with an allegation (of WMD) which proved totally wrong. US and allies are stuck in Afghanistan ( A war started by Bush) and so many American and non-Americans are dying. Bush was never even tried, even though he was responsible for so many innocent deaths. But you want to punish these people to death just for their (unproven) potential? Which principle do you believe Mr. Right?

      April 23, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Reply
      • Joe

        I do think that Bush should be tried for his war against Iraq. His administration made up the WMD evidence, they are criminals.
        I do not wish any of these prisoners to die, and hope that they are treated well. The hunger strike is their own choice.
        I would love to be able to blindly promote great principles, but in that case, I think that the safety of potential terrorism targets matters the most.

        April 23, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
      • Ron

        Bush is too stupid to blame but Rice, Cheney and Rumsfeld &Co are all war criminals who are responsible for the deaths of thousands of fellow americans.

        April 23, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • dkey

      Let us rewind, then after going through this would you be surprised or start asking why they are capable of blowing up a plane?. Sometimes human being creates his own problems. Always connect all the points including yours to understand a phenomena.

      April 24, 2013 at 2:05 am | Reply
  5. infidel

    Why do we care about these terrorists? If they die by starving themselves we don't have to pay for the bullet to execute them AND saves us the cost of food supplied to them. With a bargain like that they should all go on hunger strikes.

    April 23, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Reply
    • Infidel *****

      Support you 100% infidel. 170 or so bullets will take care of business and much cheaper than to force feed them..thanks Barack keep them there...

      April 23, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Reply
    • dkey

      Advice to would be terrorist. The world has billions of people. 186 by random selection found guilty?. If it was this simple to pick a terrorist we would not have Boston bombings. You are caught because you show your colours all over. Go under ground like the word's most Full Bloodthirsty Insects(FBI). I am sure you know by now that you are a marked Gang so is the FBI. So leave innocent people out of this. Be a man and face your "real" enemy man to man. That is how you win a fight.

      April 24, 2013 at 2:26 am | Reply
    • sarh

      You're a coward.

      April 24, 2013 at 11:59 am | Reply
  6. Jeff

    Who said they were innocent? They were captured either committing acts of terrorism, planning acts of terrorism or supporting acts of terrorism. You people complaining about their situation are the same losers who would turn around and complain as to why the FBI didn't do something different to prevent the Boston bombings and then criticize them for how they did it. It's these prisoners' own choice as to if they want to eat or not. Stop being such bleeding hearts for those who would kill you in an instant if they had the chance. You're a bunch of dimwits.

    April 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
    • davidnica

      Who said they are innocent? The FBI. You fail to understand.

      These are people who are NOT TERRORISTS. They have been cleared of all charges. They are innocent, and yet they are being indefinitely held. They want to kill no one. They just want to go home.

      April 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Reply
    • Carlos


      April 24, 2013 at 9:54 am | Reply
  7. Abajuba

    Innocent or not....plenty of innocent people are locked up all over the world.....this story is about a hunger strike. Any human stupid enough to refuse food in the hope to die, deserves to die.

    April 23, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply
    • Infidel *****

      Support you 100%, let them die....end of story...

      April 23, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Reply

    An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,Terrorism cannot be stopped by terrorism,Hate generates more hate. Some issues have to be sorted out peacefully. The World needs another Gandhi.

    April 24, 2013 at 3:43 am | Reply
  9. Ringsting

    Season 2 of 24 comes to mind when thinking of what's happened over the past 11 years regarding terrorism and response. President Palmer states that all evidence and avenues should be persued and investigated before the call of war is recognized and carried out because the consequences of war to all parties involved is too great not to.

    April 24, 2013 at 6:55 am | Reply
  10. Carlos

    Innocent people don't have to pay for guilty people's mistakes! No one, American, Arabic, Asian would want to be locked up (comprehend the situation) if it was the opposite no one single American would agree with the situation.

    April 24, 2013 at 9:38 am | Reply
  11. Capricorn

    Good. I don't care if they all died.

    April 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  12. Shirlene Blackmar

    Yes, this is a Good one

    December 16, 2020 at 2:29 am | Reply
  13. Stephan Draughn

    March 4, 2021 at 9:58 am | Reply
  14. Delta Schoettle

    March 6, 2021 at 1:50 pm | Reply

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