PHOTO: Shane T. McCoy, public domain
How unbearable life must be for a person who prefers death to living.
Almost all of the detainees at the military detention facility, Guantanamo Bay, now wish for their ultimate demise instead of going on with their miserable lives. Not only have these people been physically tortured, they have been psychologically crushed.
Three years ago, 86 of the 166 prisoners at Gitmo had hope in their hearts. They were guaranteed freedom by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who also had promised to shut down the detention camp:
It was a ray of hope for all the inmates and especially for the ones who are trapped in there even though they have been cleared of all charges. They waited for a year and nothing happened. They waited for two years and still found themselves stuck in the purgatory called Guantanamo Bay. And then, this year, the inmates finally got the hint. They were not going to be released. They were lied to. Their freedom, something they craved for more than food and water, was not going to be given to them.
It is a well known fact that Guantanamo Bay aka Gitmo is no ordinary prison. The details of torture and the kind of ‘treatment’ prisoners are served with are so gruesome that they are beyond the imagination of an average person living an average life. The situation is as horrific as the physical and psychological abuse which was carried out in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq during 2003-2004.
Non-governmental human rights organization Amnesty International cited the following conditions in a report on Gitmo:
- Forced Separation of Family Members and a Denial of Adequate Family Communication
- Religious Abuse
- Abuse of Psychologically ill Detainees
- Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) and Physical Attacks
- Sleep Deprivation
- Sensory Deprivation
- Solitary Confinement
Anyone would want to get out of a place like Gitmo. And people who have been promised freedom would definitely want to get out of there at any cost, even if it required loss of life.
The hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay is proof of the fact that some things in life are worse than death. But the inmates on strike are not even being allowed to die. There is neither freedom nor death for them. And a life stuck in between the two is the kind of life no one would want to live. It is a principle that has powered several deadly revolutions in history, the American Revolution being one of them.
Force Feeding, a process that has been described as torture by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, is an addition to the woes of the detainees on strike. The method has been described as incredibly painful. The prison officials are pumping liquids into the stomachs through tubes.
Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a prisoner at Gitmo said, “Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.”
Another prisoner, Shaker Aamer spoke with his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith and said, “They are killing us, so it is hard to keep calm…in reality I am dying inside.”
“I have bruises on my legs, knee, my arms where they carry me. They took everything…even my kids’ drawings. They ripped them off the wall. They step on your fingers, your hands, they scratch you…Yesterday they tied me on the board and they threw me in a cell because the medical people were busy.”
They are dying but not dead. They have been promised freedom but are not free. Gitmo is the detainees’ limbo on earth. Can you imagine yourself in a place like Gitmo? Can you imagine a life dangling between death and torture? What would you choose?