On the power of silence, submission to force-feeding, and the first suicides in Guantánamo

Mario Kaiser in Guernica:

Edward-Jeffrey-Kriksciun_Jargon2They remained in their cells, silent. They no longer believed in life after Guantánamo. They resisted a system that kept them in the dark about their future. They refused to defend themselves against mere accusations.

They were three proud Arab men, and they despised the America they came to know in Guantánamo. They didn’t smile like the man at the end of the chain. They didn’t offer themselves as spies, hoping that America would let them go.

At some point during their captivity, these three men began to retreat. They no longer touched the food the guards pushed through the holes in the doors of their cells. Their bodies dwindled. Their lives hung on thin yellow tubes shoved down their nostrils each morning to let a nutrient fluid drip into their stomachs. In their minds, nothing changed. They didn’t want to stay, and one night, on June 9, 2006, they decided to leave Guantánamo. They climbed on top of the sinks in their cells and hanged themselves.

In the Pentagon’s view, the men hanging from the walls of their cells were assassins whose suicides were attacks on America. The Pentagon struck back.

The story of the lives and deaths of these prisoners is an odyssey of three young men who left for Afghanistan and ended up in Cuba. It is the story of a war against a terror that is difficult to define, a war that the United States government wages even in the cells of its prisoners. It is about a place, Camp Delta, that exposes the asymmetry of this war, and it leads to the front lines—and the American lawyers standing between them, struggling to defend presumed enemies of their country. It is the story of the internal and external battle over Guantánamo.

More here.