Andy Worthington Talks About the US Authorities’ Brutal Response to the Guantánamo Hunger Strike on Press TV

7.4.13

Since a hunger strike began at Guantánamo two months ago, I have been endeavoring to play my part to keep it in the public eye, because the news of the hunger strike has finally awakened significant interest in the prison, after many years in which almost the whole world had lost interest in the plight of the men still detained at Guantánamo, even though President Obama promised to close it, and then failed to do, and even though over half of the men still held — 86 of the remaining 166 prisoners — were cleared for release by an inter-agency task force established by the President himself, but are still held because of obstructions raised by both the President and Congress.

The hunger strike involves the majority of the prisoners at Guantánamo — around 130 in total — and they are on a hunger strike to protest about conditions at the prison, and the shameful truth of their indefinite detention. The authorities have been gradually acknowledging that the hunger strike exists, after initial denials, but they still only accept that around a quarter of the men are going without food and risking their lives to tell the world how unjustly they are being treated, rather then the three-quarters of the prison’s population that the prisoners themselves claim are involved.

Since news of the strike began, I have written articles here, here, here, here and here (via Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison), and I have also spoken about the hunger strike on RT and Press TV, on the radio with Dennis Bernstein, Peter B. Collins and Michael Slate, and in print in an interview for Revolution newspaper.

A few days ago, I spoke again to Press TV, and the video of that interview is embedded below, along with a transcript of the interview, which Press TV entitled, “Gitmo guards brutally clamp down on hunger strikers.”

Press TV: Andy Worthington, looking at day 58 [of the hunger strike], do you think this is going to make any difference in the plight of these inmates who are on hunger strike at this point for this period of time?

Andy Worthington: Well, I really do hope that we are getting somewhere. Essentially the men had been almost completely forgotten about both within the United States and internationally until they started a hunger strike, and gradually over the last month or so that has become noticed, is being talked about internationally, and my feeling is that there are pressure points being opened up on the Obama administration to get the President to do something.

It is essentially, you know, it is up to him to move in addressing the issues that are troubling the prisoners in the prison, but particularly the bigger picture of moving forward with his failed promise to close Guantánamo, and very specifically I think securing the release of the 86 men who have been cleared for release but are still held, and also to provide reviews for the 46 prisoners who two years ago he designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial — a terrible thing for him to be doing but only remotely acceptable on the basis that he promised that there would be regular periodic reviews of their cases to establish whether they should still be held, and those haven’t happened.

So, you know, he needs to address the very justifiable reasons that the men at Guantánamo are in despair and on a hunger strike.

Press TV: And if you can tell us quickly about what you have been actively involved with since you are from the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, in terms of your campaign, I guess?

Andy Worthington: Well, we have just been trying to publicize the story and to make sure that people keep writing about it, keep sharing it on social media, keep talking about it, keep putting pressure on.

One of the important things that has happened in the last week is that Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal action charity Reprieve, one of the lawyers representing Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, issued an affidavit detailing a phone conversation that he had with Shaker Aamer just last weekend, a very detailed explanation of some of the things that are happening in Guantánamo, some of the things that aren’t being reported.

What we really see from that is that within Guantánamo itself we have a kind of very brutal attempt to clamp down on the prisoners, to try and stop them from being on hunger strike, but the truth for the administration is that this is no way to go about things. The men have very legitimate complaints.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign”, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

15 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Waris Ali wrote:

    You don’t need me to say it but i’ll say it anyway Andy, thank you soo much for continuously highlighting and campaigning for the plight of the Guantanamo Detainees, especially Shaker Aamer. I’ve seen the interviews with RT, Press TV and when you’ve been on American Radio. Shame the BBC aren’t bothering to mention Shaker Aamer. They mentioned the hunger strike in the past few weeks, but like with national newspapers like the telegraph, there was NO mention of Shaker Aamer, unbelievable! These are the one’s the BBC have done as far as i could find on the hunger strike. So there’s this one > http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21872214 , this one > http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21958255 and this one> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22046979
    If it wasn’t for Reprieve and Frankie Boyle suing for defamation, having that media conference, i’m thinking they wouldn’t have mentioned Shaker at all!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Waris, for the kind words, and thanks also for pointing out the lack of reference to Shaker Aamer in the British media, which is disgraceful, frankly. All the coverage of Guantanamo and the hunger strike mentions the 86 cleared prisoners still languishing unjustly in Guantanamo; it’s not asking too much of the British media, surely, to recognise that one of those men is Shaker Aamer.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    And speaking of Shaker, Waris, I’m very glad to see 75,573 signatures on the e-petition, with 13 days to go: http://www.freeshaker.com

  4. Andy Worthington says...

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Lori Ninety-nine Percent Wallace wrote:

    Thanks, as always, Andy. I listened to a segment on NPR this week discussing this issue. Of course while that doesn’t help to solve this injustice, at least people are talking about it, and some of the call ins were absolutely well informed.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Lori. Genuinely, it is very heartening that it has started to be discussed in so many places. All of us who have been working hard on this issue have certainly spent the last 15 months – since the 10th anniversary – repeatedly spelling out the same message: primarily, that 86 of the 166 men still held are men that President Obama’s own sober and responsible interagency task force of officials from the main government departments and the intelligence agencies recommended should be released. That message is finally getting through, and everyone who gets it suddenly sees why Guantanamo mustn’t be forgotten, why the prisoners are in despair, and why there are no difficulties sufficient to excuse President Obama’s inaction.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    Indeed, they are doing it purposefully so. From what Maryam said, we now have enough signatures on the paper petition to make the 100,000 It’s just down to the volunteers to keep inputting them at the required rate on a daily basis to make it in time. Which is obviously great news and means we don’t have to be stressing like mad over the next 13 days. As for the international petition, a lady from the care 2 petition site contacted me about our petition, she said she was “the Activism Coordinator at Care2.com” she wanted to promote our petition further, but wanted to go over a couple of things first. I replied a few days ago, am awaiting her response. Would you like me to forward you the messages?

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Waris. That’s wonderful news about the e-petition. Now we need to start making plans to push not only the government, but also MPs, and to have some plans for what else to do to make the general public take notice of Shaker’s case. They will try to brush us aside, I’m sure, but we need to keep pushing Shaker’s story as the British angle on the hunger strike.
    As for the international Care2 petition, please do forward the messages. The international petition now has over 3,500 signatures, as you know, and that’s because of a lot of activity recently. It seems to me that everywhere we look, people are waking up to the injustice of Guantanamo in significant numbers.

  9. Andy Worthington: Gitmo Guards Brutally Hurt Prisoners | Dandelion Salad says...

    […] Andy Worthington Writer, Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk April 7, […]

  10. Tom says...

    Do Jay Z and Beyoncé know (or care) that innocent people are being held at Guantanamo? Apparently not.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    I would say it’s unlikely, Tom, but you never know. Recently the BBC, fawning obsequiously over celebrities, as almost all media outlets do these days, broadcast Beyoncé’s HBO documentary about herself, “Life Is But A Dream,” for their formerly intellectual arts strand, Imagine. It was, I have to say, dispiritingly self-refential, so I would be surprised if she knows about the men detained in an offshore American gulag beside Cuba’s easternmost bay.

  12. Su says...

    Hi Andy
    God bless you.
    Lovely as always to see you on Press TV – in cases like this it really shows us concerned where we should always be accessing the real “news” (NORTH SOUTH EAST WEST) from. Long live Press TV and RT!
    Please Andy I am calling out to all the people young and old from anywhere in the world – to help input signatures on the uk e-petition site. As I mentioned on a previous comment I do not live in the UK but with the help of a wonderful dear brother in the UK he sends me over batches of names, and addresses to input from demos and conferences held recently to Bring Home dear Shaker and then for this to be the big big push to release all the detainess or put them up for trial.
    It is easy really if you have a bit of time and can help this worthy cause – please be in touch with dataentry@saveshaker.org. Lets get this man home to his family! We can do it if we all chip in! Its only 13 days till the epetition ends … please help dear all!

  13. Su says...

    Sorry I forgot to add Andy – please keep us informed about any messages from the lady at the international epetition site that waris ali stated – anything we can do to help from overseas….
    Keep up the good fight dear Andy- Keep well and regards to your family for their endless support in helping you achieve all you do.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your support of Shaker, Su, and your important message asking people to help with inputting signatures. The petition is on 77,259 signatures now, so that means that urgent help is needed with inputting the 20,000+ signatures that have already been secured on paper petitions.

  15. No War No Torture » Blog Archive » Prisoners on Hunger Strike at Guantanamo says...

    […] Adel Hakimi was, like so many of these prisoners still languishing in Guantanamo today, cleared for release during the Bush regime, which challenged that decision and the Obama regime continues to refuse to release him.  A hunger strike is the only way these prisoners have to resist.   The US, with disregard for international law and US laws against torture, brutally force feeds them.  More from Andy Worthington about this strike. […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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