Three inmates commit suicide at Guantanamo detention facility

Sunday, June 11, 2006

File image of detainees upon arrival at Camp X-Ray, January 2002

Three inmates hung themselves with nooses made from their bedsheets at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to the U.S. Military, the time of death is not yet clear; the men were "found unresponsive and not breathing in their cells by guards." Two of the men are reported to be Saudi, the third being Yemeni. According to Admiral Harry Harris, one of the prisoners was a mid-to-high level Al-Qaida operative, another belonged to a splinter group, and the other was captured in Afghanistan.

Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, General John Craddock, said the three men had left suicide notes, but Craddock refused to discuss the contents.

Base commander Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris said the suicides were acts of "asymmetrical warfare". According to Reuters his expressed opinion was that the suicides were an act of war, "They are smart. They are creative. They are committed. They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us," he told reporters. It must be noted however that the concerned officer has not claimed to have the educational qualification to analyse the prisoners in a psychological manner, so his authority to comment on this matter might be questionable.

Ken Roth, Human Rights Watch in New York, said "These people are despairing because they are being held lawlessly". Mr Roth continued "There's no end in sight. They're not being brought before any independent judges. They're not being charged and convicted for any crime."

Moazzam Begg, 37, who was released in 2005 after spending two years under detention at Guantanamo told the Associated Press: "We all expected something like this but were not prepared. It's just awful. I hope the Bush administration will finally see this is wrong."

Barbara Olshansky, of the Center for Constitutional Rights which represents about 300 Guantanamo Bay detainees, said "I think people [detained at Guantanamo] have this incredible level of despair that they will never get justice. Olshansky said the US government "not only failed these people but pushed them on the road to death".

The United Nations recently asked the U.S to close down the detention centre after reports of abuse were made, including the flushing of Quraans down toilets, force-feeding of inmates, sleep deprivation and beatings of underage prisoners.