The global hacker collective, Anonymous, has chosen the U.S. military’s Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba as its latest target, vowing to wage digital warfare against the facility considered by many groups, including Amnesty International and the World Medical Association (WMA), to be a violation of international law.
The action is designed to show solidarity with the 100 detainees refusing food to protest poor living conditions and prolonged detentions without charge or trial.
“We stand in solidarity with the Guantanamo hunger strikers. We will shut down Guantanamo,” Anonymous vowed in a recent post online.
The group did not detail how it would achieve this goal, but promised that “twitter-storms, email bombs and fax bombs” would be part of the action. Formed in 2003, the group has urged internet hackers from around the world to join the action scheduled to take place May 17-19.
Anonymous has gained notoriety in recent years for shutting down government websites, most often to protest legislation that the group sees as undermining free speech on the internet.
The latest action comes at the height of a dire protest at Guantanamo, when roughly 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay continue a hunger strike protesting indefinite detention without charge, as well aspoor living conditions.
Amnesty International reports that detainees have been subject to torture, including prolonged stays in solitary confinement and sensory deprivation. Lights are kept on 24 hours a day and cells are kept at uncomfortably low temperatures.
Some have gone without food for 100 days or more, prompting the U.S. to begin force-feeding at least 24 prisoners to prevent death.
Force-feeding is a drastic action that has been roundly condemned by human rights organizations and the United Nations in recent weeks following detainees’ cries for help to the international community.
“I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up,” wrote Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a Guantanamo detainee from Yemen, in a recent New York Times op-ed last month. “I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before.”
Following Moqbel’s statement, the World Medical Association (WMA) representing 102 countries, including the U.S., declared force-feeding a form of torture: “Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied with threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment. Equally unacceptable is the force feeding of some detainees in order to intimidate or coerce other hunger strikers to stop fasting,” the WMA said.
At the heart of Anonymous’ Guantanamo Bay protest is a demand to immediately close the facility that was opened January 2002 to house suspected terrorists captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Guantanamo Bay must be closed at once, and the prisoners should be either returned to their home countries or given a fair trial in a federal court. Guantanamo Bay is an ongoing war crime. Anonymous will no longer tolerate this atrocity,” Anonymous stated in an online video.
Some prisoners have been held without charge or trial for years, languishing behind bars without being presented with evidence of crimes or charges. Shaker Aamer, a citizen of the United Kingdom, was detained in Afghanistan and has spent 11 years at the facility.
Aamer was cleared for release in 2007 but remains in prison with no legal recourse and no idea what he is charged with.
Dozens of others who spent time at Guantanamo were released after it was found that they had no connection to al-Qaeda, the Taliban or any other terrorist activity.
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