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A BRITISH charity urged its US supporters yesterday to lobby their government to release disturbing top-secret footage of a hunger-striking Guantanamo Bay prisoner being force-fed.
Reprieve, which campaigned for the release of British detainee Shaker Aamer, wants people to “act quickly” in order to expose harrowing prison camp torture.
US Solicitor General Don Verrilli will decide tomorrow, seven years after President Barack Obama vowed to close the prison in Cuba, whether to lodge an appeal to block anyone from viewing the evidence of abuse.
Reprieve’s website offers a template email to send to Mr Verrilli to encourage him to “drop the appeal and release as much of the footage as is feasible to the general public.”
Hours of redacted footage shows former Guantanamo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab — held for 12 years without charge or trial — dragged from his cell by guards in riot gear and force-fed.
Only the US government and Reprieve lawyers have ever been able to view the tapes.
Mr Dhiab, who has been wheelchair-bound since being released to Uruguay in 2014, was routinely abused and had unsanitary tubes pushed into his throat by medics, while one of the six riot gear-clad guards filmed everything.
Save Shaker Aamer Campaign chairwoman Joy Hurcombe said it’s “essential” that the public witnesses how prisoners on hunger strike are tortured on a daily basis.
She told the Star: “They are dragged from their cells and brutally strapped in and fed in the most inhumane fashion. It is a crime against humanity, illegal and a form of torture.”
Ms Hurcombe added that she watched “unspeakably violent” simulated footage demonstrating methods designed to “dehumanise prisoners, destroy their bodies and crush their will.”
This is because hunger strikes are the only form of peaceful protest that detainees have, she said.
She continued: “The tubes are harshly entered through the nose and mouth, although they are often much too big and have not been cleaned after being used on other prisoners.
“Prisoners are in pain and choking. The tubes are yanked out and, if they vomit, they are subjected to more force-feeding and are not allowed any water.”
The US government is “deeply ashamed” of the events — despite insisting that no torture occurs — and “will try every way to stop people seeing the footage,” according to Ms Hurcombe.
Sixteen media organisations — including the Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times Company and Bloomberg — intervened in the legal case to lobby for the release of the footage.
Last January, they criticised the US government’s “absolutist position” in blocking access to court evidence that “violates constitutional access rights and the separation of powers.”
Reprieve lawyers had won a legal battle to obtain the footage and a judge has already ordered the US government to release the tapes — but Mr Verrilli could still block it.
Lawyer Cori Crider said: “[The footage] is disturbing and will make anyone who watches it lose sleep. But that’s exactly why the public needs to see it.
“If Obama is going to make meaningful progress in keeping his promise to shut Guantanamo, all of us need to know what the daily reality of the prison is like.”
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