EXCLUSIVE: A Warning from Guantánamo – Four Prisoners Are Close to Death, and the Authorities Don’t Care

26.4.13

I have just received a brief message from a credible source inside Guantánamo, about the situation in the prison today, which I wanted to make available because it exposes how four prisoners are close to death, as a result of the prison-wide hunger strike that is on its 80th day, and yet the guard force are behaving with brutality and indifference.

The source stated that it “looks like GTMO is going backward,” with the guards “putting people in isolation and all day long making lots of noise by speaking loudly, running on the metal stairs and leaving their two-way radios on all day and night. People cannot sleep.”

The source added, “There are at least four people that are at the very edge and one named Khiali Gul from Afghanistan is in a bad shape and cannot move and cannot talk or eat or drink. When other detainees tell the guards about him, they say, ‘When he is completely unconscious, then we will take him.’ The chances are that he will die.”

The source also explained that he has been trying to get an Afghan lawyer “to notify his family to at least call him and they might have a chance to talk to him for the last time.”

The source also stated, “There is such an arrogance inside the camp,” that, while a prisoner was meeting with his legal team, “a guard came and knocked on the door and said, ‘Your time is up.’ One of the lawyers said, ‘OK, can we have a few minutes to clean up?’ and the guard said, ‘No, your time is up.’ He kicked us out.”

Khiali Gul (aka Khi Ali Gul), who is 49 or 50 years old, is one of the 86 cleared prisoners still held because of President Obama’s inertia and the cynical obstructions raised by Congress, designed to prevent the release of any of the prisoners. He is an Afghan who should never have been detained in the first place, as I explained last July, when I wrote about discussions between Presidents Obama and Karzai regarding the possibility of transferring some or all of the remaining 17 Afghan prisoners back to Afghanistan.

I first declared Khi Ali Gul innocent in my book The Guantánamo Files, published in 2007, and can say with confidence that I came to regard him as an innocent man wrongly detained while researching the prisoners’ stories in the summer of 2006. In my article last July, drawing on my analysis of his story in my book, I wrote:

[Gul] was captured in Khost and accused of taking part in a bomb plot and being part of a Taliban assassination team. During his long years in Guantánamo, he has stated that he fought with US forces in Tora Bora, and described one occasion when “the Americans were sleeping and we were guarding them.” He added, “If I were their enemy, I would have killed them all.” He was captured at a checkpoint, where, he said, “there were some people that I had a dispute with,” and he added that they “told the American soldiers a lie,” and he was then arrested.

Last September, another cleared prisoner, Adnan Latif, died in Guantánamo, allegedly by committing suicide. President Obama needs to act immediately, so that other cleared prisoners, like Khiali Gul, do not die.

The President needs to understand that the hunger strike is a result of despair, and cannot be seen in the narrow context of the need to restore order in the prison, and, as commander in chief, he needs to rein in the guard force.

Most of all, though, he needs to release those like Khiali Gul who were told, at least three years and three months ago, in January 2010, when President Obama’s inter-agency task force issued its report recommending prisoners for transfer, indefinite detention or trials, “On January 22 2009, the President of the United States ordered a new review of the status of each detainee in Guantánamo. As a result of that review you have been cleared for transfer out of Guantánamo … The US Government intends to transfer you as soon as possible …”

Act now, President Obama, or these tragic and unacceptable deaths will be on your conscience.

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 “Close Guantánamo campaign”, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

48 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Jason Leopold wrote:

    Great work, Andy.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Jason. I thought you’d appreciate it. Keep up the pressure, my friend!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Pauline Kiernan wrote:

    thanks Andy Sharing

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Deborah Hitz wrote:

    thank you Andy (and Jason!)

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Jason Leopold wrote:

    You as well, Andy! It’s making an impact.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Aaron Ben Acer Quinn wrote:

    thanks for keeping us informed bro , muchos kudos

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    So, for the record, Facebook wouldn’t show my photo of Khiali Gul, and wouldn’t show the photo of him from the New York Times’ Guantanamo Docket either. Third time lucky was the photo of him from the Daily Telegraph database, which was put together when the Telegraph (along with me, the Washington Post, McClatchy and others) worked as a media partner for WikiLeaks’ release of the classified Guantanamo military files almost exactly two years ago (on April 25, 2011). That’s how we know what Gul, and so many of the other prisoners look like.
    My WikiLeaks project here: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/category/2002-2011-the-complete-guantanamo-files-new/

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    June Maxi Marshall wrote:

    Thank you Andy! We need more sharing such as you’re doing.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Rachel’s Page wrote:

    Thank you for keeping us all informed Andy

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Saleyha Ahsan wrote:

    I am going to share and tweet. Thanks Andy- this is a disgrace – cleared men dying like this.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, June, Rachel, Saleyha and everyone who has been liking and sharing this. I find it hard to stop thinking about Khiali Gul, a man whose story I first investigated and wrote about nearly seven years ago. For him still to be held – let alone being close to death – is an outrage. The fact that he is so ill casts a very dark shadow on President Obama and on the lawmakers and judges who have not done enough to push for the prison’s closure or have actively opposed its closure and the release of prisoners.

  12. MIKE LEVINSON says...

    We are protesting and hunger striking in solidarity. Power to the Peaceful.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Mike. Good to hear from you.

  14. Abdulrahman says...

    I remember that president Obama promised he would shut down Guantanamo during his 1st presidential campaign … hahahah

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the comment, Abdulrahman. I agree that it is a disgrace that he promised to close Guantanamo and then failed to do so. However, at least it gives us some leverage, as does the fact that he established an inter-agency task force to review the prisoners’ cases, who concluded that 86 of the remaining 166 men shouldn’t continue to be held indefinitely. Without these two things, he could, if he wanted, sit back and claim that US law, passed after 9/11 (the Authorization for Use of Military Force), allowed him to keep holding all these men until some spectral “end of hostilities” that might never come.

  16. John Baker says...

    Thatcher played similar games with Irish hunger strikers in the 1980s…the end game was not hers.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the comment, John. The US authorities have demonstrated an ability to keep hunger strikers alive for years. One of the men has been on a hunger strike since the summer of 2005, and has been force fed twice a day since at least the start of 2006. However, that doesn’t secure political victory. as Thatcher learned, and as you pointed out.

  18. Sana says...

    Kudos to you Andy for bringing this to the surface and for your dedication – fighting for the rights of these men is as important as fighting for our own freedom and I hope and pray that President Obama has a change of heart regardless of how cynical Congress becomes!

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Sana. Great to hear from you.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank again to everyone who has been liking and sharing this. It’s gone viral, as I hoped it would. Today’s news is that 100 prisoners are now on a hunger strike according to the US military, creeping ever closer to the prisoners’ own total, which is 130 of the remaining 166 prisoners. There’s no easy way out of this for the Obama administration. The President is going to have to act.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Qasim Khan wrote:

    We can only pray for it…sir appreciate ur work…

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Qasim. Good to hear from you.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Christine Casner wrote:

    Sharing Andy. Thank You from the bottom of my heart for your commitment to Justice, and so much more. Peace my friend.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Chris, for those supportive words. Keep talking about the hunger strike, and writing about it, and sharing the information, my friends. It is finally being acknowledged by people with power and influence that we have the unassailable moral high ground, and the administration has no excuses.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    Thanks Andy … very disturbing…

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Carol. Good to hear from you.

  27. Tom says...

    Posting in high visibility areas to try and help drive traffic here.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom. Much appreciated.

  29. Anna says...

    Praying seems indeed like the only thing we can do, both for Shaker and all of his hungerstriking brothers out there. A race against the clock. It’s like looking at someone lying wounded in a minefield and not being allowed to go in and get him out.
    I’m screening right now an excellent US documentary film about the involvement of doctors and psychologists in the ‘war on terror’ torture (Doctors of the Dark Side).
    In it is a letter written by Shaker, with him describing how sick he is both physically and psychologically, and how he just would like to be left alone to die in peace.
    The letter is dated November 2005 …
    The film also contains a detailed explanation of the Guantanamo force feeding protocols by lawyer Ramzi Kassem. That was in 2010, when the riot squads were dragging resisting prisoners out of their cells to the forced feeding, but they were not yet beating them up just for daring to ask for their medication …
    The film will be available on DVD from Amazon (sorry to have to advertize this Wikileaks saboteur and dismal employer) in a week’s time, as of May 7th.

  30. A Warning from Guantánamo – Four Prisoners Are Close to Death, and the Authorities Don’t Care by Andy Worthington | Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] Andy Worthington Writer, Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk April 26, [...]

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, Anna, albeit under such terrible circumstances. Your minefield analogy is, sadly, spot-on.
    I haven’t seen the “Doctors of the Dark Side” film. I should look into whether it’s been shown here and clearly I should check it out.

  32. Anna says...

    Hi Andy,
    I checked, it’s been shown only once so far in Britain, you just missed it : Friday, April 12, 2013 at the British Psychological Society Conference in North Yorkshire.
    Maybe some high-ranking participants in that conference could be invited to speak out publicly?
    The next one scheduled so far, won’t be until October 29th. http://www.doctorsofthedarkside.com/screenings/university-college-london.
    Audience is stunned, as most never knew about this ‘[medical] scandal within the [torture] scandal’ as the author calls it. Just like it was stunned to realize that the ‘worst of the worst’ in fact in most cases were innocent bystanders, after seeing Outside the Law.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anna, for that useful information. October’s a long way away, but that will be worth attending – and publicising.

  34. The Prisoners Speak: Reports from the Hunger Strike in Guantánamo | IWDTV says...

    [...] Friday, I received an alarming message from inside Guantánamo, from a reliable source who described the impact of the prisonwide hunger [...]

  35. Hitch Hiker says...

    The juxtaposition of “President Obama” and “conscience” is hillaryous! Kudos for your reporting, but it seems your comprehension of the power structure remains based on the theater and propaganda of the ruling elite. Look beyond the stage and behind the curtain. There you will find avarice and evil perpetually managing mankind like a livestock operation.

  36. Jarrod says...

    “Act now, President Obama, or these tragic and unacceptable deaths will be on your conscience.” The man doesn’t have one. Their blood will be on your hands is a more accurate statement.

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Well, thank you, Hitch Hiker and Jarrod, for your comments, but I believe it’s more subtle than that and that there will have to be progress again on closing Guantanamo before too long. That said, I could be wrong – just as I could be wrong about President Obama having a conscience …

  38. Jeff Kaye says...

    Thank god you are keeping on this, Andy. The rest of the world appears to have fallen into a deep sleep. The coverage in the US press, except for Jason Leopold and occasionally a few others, is either non-existent or terrible.

  39. Cosmic Surfer says...

    As always, Andy – you nailed it…Sadly, you are still having to report on our hubris. Thank you for the continued thought, scream and confrontation …some of us are slowly awakening.

  40. Guantanamo : grève de la faim sous surveillance medicale « Orchidées says...

    [...] spécialiste britannique de la prison Andy Worthington a estimé sur son blog que « quatre prisonniers étaient proches de la mort » en raison de la grève [...]

  41. Andy Worthington says...

    I think you’ve been awake for a long time, Cosmic Surfer, but yes, I get your point. There’s definitely awakening going on right now with Guantanamo. Thank you very much for your supportive comments, my friend. Very much appreciated.

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for the encouragement. I certainly believe that most of the US broadcast media is populated by the soulless and the malevolent (as seen in the hysterical Boston coverage), but the New York Times has finally picked up the baton, and much of the world’s media is still on the case. The main thing is for people not to drift off, but I actually think the palpable injustice of it all has reached a tipping point, and that Obama can’t really retreat safely to indifference once more.
    Then again, perhaps I’ve just been awake too long …

  43. Hunger strike at Guantanamo: US perpetrates human rights atrocity – Marketing, Media and Childhood says...

    [...] Another from Guantanamo journalist Andy Worthington: I have just received a brief message from a credible source inside Guantánamo, about the situation in the prison today, which I wanted to make available because it exposes how four prisoners are close to death, as a result of the prison-wide hunger strike that is on its 80th day, and yet the guard force are behaving with brutality and indifference. [...]

  44. New York Times Calls Guantánamo Bay a "Political Prison" | Moral Low Ground says...

    [...] the force-feeding, Andy Worthington, author of “The Guantánamo Files,” reports that four of the detainees are “close to death” as the strike passes its 80th [...]

  45. Cuba Journal says...

    Thanks for bringing this before world public opinion. The atrocities committed by the Yankee imperialists are never ending. They do it 24/7/365.

    I included a link to your article @ Cuba Journal.

  46. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Cuba Journal. Good to hear from you.

  47. Guantanamo encore et tant que cela durera | La Voix De La Libye says...

    [...] spécialiste britannique de la prison Andy Worthington a estimé sur son blog que« quatre prisonniers étaient proches de la mort » en raison de la [...]

  48. Guantanamo : quelque 25 000 personnes demandent la fermeture du camp says...

    [...] de citer sur son blog le cas de Khiali Gul, un Afghan de cinquante ans qui n’aurait jamais dû être arrêté et [...]

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