Remembering Guantánamo’s Dead

Campaigners with Witness Against Torture remind President Obama of the nine deaths that have occurred at Guantanamo at a protest in April 2013.Every year, I publish an article remembering the men who died at Guantánamo in what, in 2013, I first described as “the season of death” at the prison — the end of May and the start of June, when six men died: three on June 9, 2006, one on May 30, 2007, another on June 1, 2009, and the last on May 22, 2011.

Of the six, only the last death — of Hajji Nassim, an Afghan known in Guantánamo as Inayatullah — appears very clearly to have been a suicide. Nassim had profound mental health issues (as well as being a case of mistaken identity), but although there was no reason to suspect foul play, it is, as I explained last year, “disturbing and disgraceful that a profoundly troubled man, who was not who the authorities pretended he was, died instead of being released.”

Doubts have also been raised about the deaths in 2007 and 2009, as I also explained last year, when I wrote:

My very first articles, in May/June 2007, were written in response to the alleged death by suicide, on May 30, 2007, of a Saudi prisoner, Abdul Rahman al-Amri. Former prisoner Omar Deghayes later told me that al-Amri had been profoundly upset by the sexual harassment at Guantánamo — enough, perhaps, to lead him to take his own life — but Jeff Kaye (psychologist and journalist) later looked into the investigation into his death and found another murky story, as he did for Muhammad Salih (aka Mohammed al-Hanashi), another long-term hunger striker and agitator who died on June 1, 2009.

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Video: Andy Worthington Discusses the Documentary “Death in Camp Delta,” Examining the Alleged Suicides in Guantánamo in June 2006

In the whole sordid ten-year history of Guantánamo, one of the most distressing events, which has never been adequately investigated, involves the deaths of three prisoners on the night of June 9, 2006. According to the authorities, the deaths were the result of a coordinated suicide pact, but this never sounded credible to anyone who investigated the official story, and found that they were obliged to believe that the men had somehow tied themselves up, stuffed rags down their throats and managed to hang themselves, in a prison where the guards checked on them every few minutes.

These doubts were thoroughly exposed in a report (“Death in Camp Delta“) published by the Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey in December 2009,  which involved a detailed examination of thousands of pages of records and reports from an inadequate investigation conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (which concluded in 2008, and which I discussed here), and it was followed, in January 2010, by an explosive article in Harper’s Magazine by Scott Horton (“The Guantánamo ‘Suicides’: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle“), drawing on the testimony of US military personnel who were in Guantanamo at the time of the deaths, and who cast further doubts on the official story, mentioning a secret camp known as “Camp No,” and the movement of vehicles — very possibly to and from this facility — on the night that the men died. See here and here for my commentary.

In an attempt to keep the deaths of these three men in the public eye, the Norwegian filmmaker Erling Borgen spent three years making a documentary film, “Death in Camp Delta,” which I recently reviewed for Russell Michaels’ show “Cinepolitics” on Press TV, along with the film reviewer Neil Smith. The video of the show is below, via Daily Motion, and for further information about the film, please see the “Death in Camp Delta” website and the Facebook page. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 (The State of London).
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