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Starvation vs. Detention

The strongest prisoner rebellion at the United States’ detention camp only serves a reminder of the truly horrific side effects of the War on Terror.

Having accepted that the prison is too much to bear, over one hundred of the one hundred and sixty six prisoners are taking part in a hunger strike with many now being force-fed. The strike has grown over the previous month to become the biggest prisoner protest since the detention camp’s establishment in 2002 and it is rightly capturing the attention of citizens across the globe.

It is far from the first time that we have heard of the alleged human rights abuses of prisoners at the camp. Yet, unfortunately, the fluid world easily disposes of the many stories that make our hearts ache; just think of how long it was until you forgot about Kony 2012 and you’ll realise that it won’t be long before this story disappears from the mainstream media and we return to our blissful lives, unaware of any further developments at the prison.

The protesting prisoners, whether intentionally or not, are highlighting the alleged injustices that are being committed; detention without trial, torture, poor living conditions and now being force-fed against their will. To these people, it would appear that a slow death is far better than living in the arrangements given to them; I don’t blame them. To be isolated from your life for over a decade without having been called guilty or innocent is a life of torture. Some have already committed or attempted to commit suicide.

But when the camp will close is unknown. Despite Obama’s 2009 inauguration pledge to close the camp within a year, four years on, the camp remains open, the prisoners remain detained and the politicians remain reluctant. Congress has voted again and again against closing it in. Yet, this week, Obama has been coerced into releasing a fresh statement of his determination to close the prison even though his power to do so is essentially non-existent without the backing of the two political houses.

Perhaps most shocking of all is the profile of the detainees. Too large a number were teenagers when captured and have spent their transformation into adults in the horrible conditions of the camp, held despite no court declaring them guilty. Barack Obama claims it “is inefficient, it hurts us in terms of our international standing, it lessens co-operation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts, it is a recruitment tool for extremists, it needs to be closed.” I call it inhumane, abusive and unjustified; it should never have been opened.

The Human Rights Act that we take for granted in the United Kingdom is unfortunately not global. The extradition agreements in place between the United Kingdom and the United States are luxurious compared to the forceful abduction of these terrorist suspects. Our prisoners don’t have the vote; these prisoners don’t have lives.

Mainstream media continues their focus on the War on Terror with the atrocities committed in Iraq and Afghanistan whilst Guantanamo Bay continues to be ignored. With little pressure on their backs, Guantanamo Bay will continue operating, the United States congress will ignore their consciences and the torture will not cease.

There’s a reason the camp is in Cuba and not on United States mainland.

Additionally published by Redbrick.

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