“Defence lawyers have tried to engage in constructive dialogue but we have been met with resistance and silence,” explained US Army Captain Jason Wright, a lawyer who described seeing his client Obaidullah, now a 52kg “bag of bones”, a few days ago as “extremely distressing”.
“When I walked into the room he was demonstrably changed. He said, ‘They won’t treat us with dignity, they are treating us like dogs’. There is an urgency. It is clear that if this hunger strike continues there will be deaths. These men are going to die in this prison for nothing. It is an absolute outrage,” said Wright.
The protest began when, according to lawyers, the new administration decided to end “an era of permissiveness” and take a more punitive approach, in contravention with the Geneva Convention, which calls for preventative detention. Guards confiscated all “comfort items” but what inflamed inmates most was a search of their Korans, an act the administration denies.
First-hand reports reveal that most prisoners are now being held in solitary confinement in empty, windowless cells just 3.5m by 2.5m. Clean water is rationed, they say, and they have been stripped of all possessions.
They complain the air-conditioning has been turned up to an icy level, guards deliberately disturb prayer times and turn up throughout the night to take them for showers.