Communist Party of Australia

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Issue #1592      May 8, 2013

Guns and gas used to attack inmates

Guantánamo guards used rubber bullets and tear gas to put down a peaceful protest by prisoners, an inmate has told legal action charity Reprieve. Younous Chekkouri, who has been cleared for release but remains at the US prison camp, gave the first inside account of the April 13 raid by telephone last week.

Prison authorities stormed cells after inmates covered cameras in a “peaceful demonstration,” Mr Chekkouri said. Detainees had been covering the cameras in their cells since hunger strikes began around 12 weeks ago.

Despite US President Barack Obama reiterating his unfulfilled vow to close the camp, 100 of the 166 prisoners are now refusing food.

“I was sleeping when at almost 5am guards came in with shotguns. There was no confrontation that prompted it,” he said. “When I woke up I heard them using guns on the detainees’ block next door. The detainees didn’t have anything.

“More than 50 (guards) came in on my block and there were only 13 detainees on my block. Nobody (no detainees) thought to fight. What do we have to fight with. We were outnumbered.” Mr Chekkouri said inmates were forced to lie on their bellies for more than three hours while guards took everything out of the cells.

“They moved us into another empty block and after a while they give us blanket and that is all. They said it’s punishment.”

Mr Chekkouri – a 44-year-old Moroccan arrested in 2001 in Pakistan after fleeing Afghanistan where he had been working for a youth charity – described the experience as a “nightmare.”

Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith, who is one of Mr Chekkouri’s lawyers, said: “The prisoners did not start this. The US military went in there with guns literally blazing at 5.10am as detainees prepared for morning prayer, immediately after the Red Cross left the base, so there would be no independent observers.

“Sad to say, torture and abuse continue in Guantánamo Bay and the US is throwing away yet more of its dwindling moral authority.”

Morning Star  

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