- Special Pages
It’s sad and deplorable that Guantanamo Bay is receding both from the public and media attention. The plight of detainees at the infamous facility in Cuba is seldom discussed in the global media, and if done so, it’s done fleetingly and fails to evoke any reaction. The plight of scores of detainees who are languishing without trial and justice has become a lost cause. US President Barack Obama, who made grandiose promises while taking office about delivering justice, has blissfully forgotten those promises. He is as culpable as George W Bush, and even worse, in pushing the detainees to a life of hopelessness and absolute injustice.
The latest reports coming out of Guantanamo are worrying. Tensions have spiked between the detainees and the military at the prison, with detainees resorting to a mass hunger strike demanding justice. Lawyers and human rights activists have been quoted as saying that some detainees have lost weight and at least two dozen men lost consciousness due to low sugar levels. Some are being force-fed. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the only outside organization allowed unrestricted visits to the camps, said it visited Guantanamo from Feb. 18 to 23 and “is aware of the tensions at the detention facility. The ICRC believes past and current tensions at Guantanamo to be the direct result of the uncertainty faced by detainees.
The US authorities are known for setting the bar high on human rights and take pride in defending human rights all over the world. But the Obama administration has been trampling on the rights of Guantanamo detainees with impunity and has scoffed at international outcry over the issue.
The Obama administration has abandoned efforts to repatriate prisoners cleared for release. Of the remaining detainees, more than 80 have been cleared for release if they can be returned to their home country or resettled in a third country. But the US Congress has imposed a series of restrictions on transfers out of Guantanamo, which have ground to a halt. In January, the administration closed the State Department office charged with negotiating the transfer of detainees and accelerating the closure of the facility. The army is also said to be resorting to deliberate acts of provocation at the facility. One trigger for the protests was a series of searches in Camp 6 in which detainees alleged that copies of Quran were desecrated by guards who looked through them. Pentagon has denied such allegations, but in the absence of independent probes, the denial is unlikely to be taken seriously by all.
The current hunger strike in Guantanamo is a result of the desperation and hopelessness of the detainees. It’s also surprising that global human rights bodies are not treating the issue with the seriousness it deserves•