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Lawyers for Detainees Outline Systematic Psychological Neglect at Guantánamo Bay, Demand Closure of the Prison
After learning of the apparent suicides of three men who were detained at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), condemned the Bush Administration's policy of indefinite detention and released a document which provides concrete examples of attempts by CCR and its cooperating attorneys to get medical and psychological attention to men at Guantánamo.
Bill Goodman, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights said: "The Bush Administration has systematically and deliberately denied these men their most basic rights through a policy of choking off all contact, communication, information and hope. For this administration to now claim that these suicides were acts of war by men who have no regard for human life is powerful evidence that the Bush Administration itself has no conception of the desperation they have caused.
"This government has consistently fought to keep these men from lawyers, doctors and others who were willing to help them. Now in attempting to deny the truth this administration will not only cause more pain and misery amongst the detainees at Guantánamo, it will ultimately undermine fundamental democratic institutions of the United States."
"We are greatly saddened by the news of the passing of Yasser Talal Al Zahrani, Mana Shaman Allabardi Al Otaibi, and Ahmed Abdullah., and we send our deepest sympathies to the families of these men," said Barbara Olshansky, Deputy Legal Director and Director Counsel of the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at CCR, "the men imprisoned at Guantánamo have been held for years without ever seeing the inside of a court room. The vast majority of them have never been charged with a crime. Their despair and hopelessness has increased as the years have gone by without justice, it should not surprise anyone that some of the men were pushed to such desperate measures."
Documents released by CCR outline the numerous times it and other organizations have attempted to force the Department of Defense to provide adequate medical and psychological care for the detainees at Guantánamo.
"George Bush claims that he needs the approval of the Supreme Court to close Guantánamo. That is a lie. Before more men die in desperation, the Bush Administration must close Guantánamo and either give them their day in a court of law or let them go," said Gitanjali Gutierrez, a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights who has visited the men at Guantánamo.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.