A Guantanamo detainee who spent 11 years in the facility has alleged that the US military are sexually assaulting inmates under the guise of maintaining security, it was revealed in media.
45-year old Younous Chekkouri was cleared for release to another country in 2010 but so-far this hasn’t happened.
He wrote to his lawyer, Cori Crider, who is also the strategic director for London based legal action charity Reprieve, that Guantanamo guards are punishing him and other hunger strikers with extremely invasive body searches every time they come in and out of their cell, in the letter obtained by Al Jazeera.
“The searches, as they like to call them, are spreading fear and shame. Eight guards with the watch commander surround me in one room, while two of them put their hands all over me. The sexual assault hasn’t just happened to me. Why are they doing this? That’s what I’d like to know.”
The US military strongly denies these allegations, although it is fighting similar charges from other detainees.
Todd Breasseale, a spokesman for the US Department of Defense, issued a statement in response to the allegations, which read “we will not be discussing this matter in the press because it is currently in active litigation and we will have nothing to add until it is decided in court.”
The statement continued that the guards employed in Guantanamo are “some of the most professional heavily scrutinized guards on the planet” and as such the“absurd” allegations do not stand up to intellectual scrutiny.
Crider, however, rejects these claims and says the prison authorities are using any techniques they can to try to stop inmates telling the outside world what is happening inside Guantanamo.
“It stops the information coming out to all of you, because if any client says it’s not worth it, I’m not coming out to talk to you on the phone, then I can’t then convey the information about what’s going on in Guantanamo to anyone else and it’s clear that’s the real reason for the policy,” she told Al Jazeera.
Chekkouri, who was originally from Morocco, was living with his family in Afghanistan before the US invasion and was arrested trying to flee advancing US and coalition soldiers and Special Forces.
Crider says that at no time was there any ever intention to charge him with an offense. Although he has been cleared for release by Obama’s task force he is still there and has done everything he can to pursue the legal avenues available to him.
Another letter from a Guantanamo inmate Abdehadi Faraj, which was published in the Huffington Post on Tuesday, speaks of prisoners having their private parts “searched 10 times a day”.
He goes on to explain the excruciatingly painful process of force feeding, which has become more and more brutal as the hunger strike is now entering its 6th month.
“Recently a so-called nurse brutally yanked out the force feeding tube threw it on my shoulder, and left the cell, leaving me tied down to the chair. Later, the nurse returned to the cell, took the tube off my shoulder and began to reinsert it into my nose. I asked him to cleanse and purify the tube first but he refused.
When I later tried to complain to another nurse about the incident, the other nurse threatened to force the feeding tube up my rear, not down my nose, if I didn't suspend my hunger strike,” he writes.
He continues, “And when I tried taking the matter to a senior medical officer, he told me that they would strap me to a bed and make me urinate through a catheter forced into my penis if I kept up my peaceful protest”.
In May the UN condemned the force feeding of inmates saying it went against international medical standards and should be stopped.
It also warned that the indefinite detention of suspects amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” and therefore was in breach of the UN Convention on Human Rights to which the US is a signatory.
The hunger strike has now been going on since February, with over 100 inmates now refusing solid food.
Almost all of the prisoner’s hunger striking have been cleared for release but are still in detention because the US cannot decide where to send them.
President Obama promised to close Guantanamo as part of his election campaign in 2008, but 5 years later it remains open.