Amnesty International says conditions worsen at Guantánamo camp

Guantanamo Bay torture, cartoon

By Tom Carter:

Amnesty International report: conditions for Guantánamo prisoners worsening

7 April 2007

A report released Thursday by Amnesty International (AI) describes “deteriorating” conditions at the infamous Guantánamo Bay, Cuba prison camp, citing an increase in the use of physical isolation to break prisoners, and an accompanying rise in mental health problems.

The human rights group’s report calls for the immediate closure of the camp and affirms the right of victims to pursue reparations in US courts.

The report, “Cruel and Inhuman: Conditions of isolation for detainees at Guantánamo Bay,” dismisses assurances from US authorities that Guantánamo detainees are being treated “humanely” and afforded “high quality” medical care.

The report draws a parallel between the inhuman conditions at Guantánamo and the conditions at “super-maximum” prisons operated inside the United States.

According to AI, the Guantánamo prison currently houses 385 men from around 30 countries. These prisoners, many of whom have been incarcerated for more than five years, are being denied all rights associated with US and international law.

None have had their cases reviewed by any legitimate court, and are being held in violation of fundamental democratic principles.

In December 2006, according to the report, a facility dubbed “Camp 6” was opened in Guantánamo.

Camp 6, which now houses about 165 individuals, “created even harsher and apparently more permanent conditions of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation in which detainees are confined to almost completely sealed, individual cells, with minimal contact with any other human being.”

And Guantánamo is just the tip of the iceberg.

Hunger strike in Guantánamo: here.

14 thoughts on “Amnesty International says conditions worsen at Guantánamo camp

  1. Dear Avaaz Member,

    Bush’s top advisors are divided over whether to close Guantanamo prison forever. A massive global outcry could tip the balance. Click to sign our petition — we will publish it in key US papers next week:

    Take Action Now

    Adel Hamad grew up in a small village in Sudan. Through hard work, he became a schoolteacher. To support his family, he took a job as an assistant at a community hospital in Afghanistan. Then, late one night, he was torn from his bed and sent to hell – Guantanamo Detainee #940.

    Like most of the nearly 400 detainees trapped at Guantanamo, Adel Hamad has had no trial. He has seen no family members for four years. Experts overwhelmingly believe he was not a terrorist. Even US military officers reviewing his situation have called his detention “unconscionable.”

    Take Action Now
    Nearly 400 people are stuck in President Bush’s prison at Guantanamo without trials or even being charged with a crime.

    Last week, nearly 50,000 of us from 160 countries signed Avaaz’s call to close Guantanamo prison – making it the largest petition in the world opposing President Bush’s assault on international law. Next week, we will run the petition in major US newspapers. To be counted and to see a map of which countries have the most signatures, click here.

    Guantanamo’s former commander General Jay Hood has admitted, “Sometimes we just didn’t get the right folks.” Without trials, innocent people get caught in the mix. And let’s face it, even guilty people have the right to a trial and to know what crimes they are accused of. Meanwhile, regimes around the world are using Guantanamo to excuse their own human rights abuses.

    But now we have a chance for progress. Last week, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates finally said Guantanamo should be closed. President Bush’s advisors are split down the middle – and a global outcry could tip the balance and push Bush to close Guantanamo forever.

    Please sign the petition calling on the US government to close Guantanamo and for its inmates to be tried in a legitimate court or set free:

    Next week, we’ll run ads featuring the petition in Washington, DC newspapers read by top Bush officials. It’s time to show them that citizens from every country on earth want this injustice to end.

    In hope,
    Ricken, Milena, Tom, Graziela and the Avaaz Team

    PS. If you want to hear more about Mr. Hamed’s case, you can check it out at [video]


  2. Howard Zinn and the Cuban Five
    Posted by: “Compañero” chocoano05
    Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:38 pm (PST)
    The case of the Cuban Five: an unforgivable act of

    On the afternoon of April 9th, 150 people filled a lecture
    hall at Northeastern University Law School in Boston,
    eager to hear Professor Howard Zinn discuss the roots of
    U.S. policy towards Cuba. Salim Lamrani, the editor of
    Superpower Principles, traveled from Paris where he
    teaches at the Diderot, to speak specifically about the
    case of the Cuban Five. Following the lecture in Boston,
    he flew to California to participate in a series of
    lectures throughout that state at law schools and

    Nancy Kohn, from the July 26 Coalition of Boston, chaired
    the meeting. Setting the tone for the afternoon, Nancy
    said “Today, we want to explore the double standard used
    by the Bush administration in its so called war against
    terror.” In her introduction, she thanked Professor Zinn
    for being there. “He is an acclaimed historian, playwright
    and social activist, and the author of more than two dozen
    books, including A People’s History of the United States.
    He is truly a national treasure who brings total integrity
    to the study of history.”

    It was Professor Zinn who started the afternoon with a
    little bit of sarcasm: “Nobody knows about the Cuban Five.
    You are lucky that by the end of the day, you will be
    among the smartest people in this country because you will
    know something that most people do not know. This is the
    horror of our media that such an important event in our
    history has been kept away from us.”

    He presented an historical overview of U.S. relations with
    Latin America, particularly toward Cuba. He explained that
    because the “Soviet threat is no longer present, the
    United States government now justifies its policies saying
    that we are against Cuba because Castro is a dictator.” In
    joking about this reason, he said “But we like dictators;
    in fact we like them so much that we put them in power all
    over the world.” In closing, Howard Zinn said that the
    case of the Cuban Five is an embarrassing example of
    injustice in our country. The justice system in the U.S.
    is supposed to be democratic but instead we know that
    politics determines who goes to jail.” He concluded saying
    that “the case of the Cuban Five is an unforgivable act of

    Following Professor Zinn, Salim Lamrani detailed the
    history of U.S. terrorism against Cuba, denouncing the
    hypocrisy of the Bush administration. Lamrani accused Bush
    of currently protecting the worst terrorist in the Western
    Hemisphere, Luis Posada Carriles. Posada is responsible
    for the death of 73 people in the downing of a Cubana
    airliner 40 years ago, and many other deaths since then
    due to his terrorist actions. Professor Lamrani explained
    the case of the Cuban Five and all the irregularities
    since they were arrested. He ended his remarks by
    denouncing the complicity of the media for hiding this
    important information from the people of the United

    Alicia Jrapko from the International Committee for the
    Freedom of the Cuban Five, talked about the international
    campaign on behalf of Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva who
    have been denied visas and so cannot visit their husbands
    in prison. She also mentioned all the difficulties that
    other family members go through to visit their loved ones
    in prison. “The Five and their families are not alone. In
    this struggle for Justice they are accompanied by the
    entire Cuban people, their government, and people and
    organizations from all over the world including many of us
    here in the United States” Jrapko said.

    One of the highlights of the program was when Nalda
    Vigezzi from the July 26 Coalition of Boston and one of
    the co-chairs of the National Network on Cuba, read a
    message sent by Antonio Guerrero for the event. In his
    letter Antonio wrote that he could speak about many facts
    in this history of the Cuban Five, but “I do not need to
    explain anything when I know that at this meeting, will be
    speaking two admired, beloved and respected professors —
    Howard Zinn and Salim Lamrani, recognized specialists in
    the relations between the United States and Cuba.”

    At the end of the lecture, Nancy Kohn asked participants
    to get involved in the case and to keep the pressure on
    their elected officials. She explained that one easy way
    to do something was to send the postcards that were left
    in each seat at the beginning of the meeting. More that 65
    people filled out the postcards and left them with the
    organizers to be mailed to Congress. They call attention
    to the injustice of the detainment of the Five Heroes and
    demand visas for Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva. Many in
    the young audience also signed up to get further involved
    in work to free the Five.

    The participation of Howard Zinn at a lecture addressing
    the case of the Cuban Five provides proof that the media
    silence surrounding the injustice of this case can be
    broken in a different way. For the most part, the case has
    yet to make it to the U.S. mainstream media but without
    doubt, talks like the one at Northeastern University Law
    School touched the heart and the conscience of many new
    people. In learning about an historical event, people can
    take action and become participants. As Professor Zinn
    wrote at the end of his masterpiece A People’s History of
    the United States, referring to other events in U.S.
    history where people are challenging the present,
    demanding a new future, “It is a race in which we can all
    choose to be participants or just watch.”

    The Northeastern student chapters of the American Civil
    Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Lawyers Guild
    helped publicize the event, as did Professor James Rowan,
    the clinical director of the Northeastern Poverty Law


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