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Senate to Hold First Congressional Hearing to Consider Closing Guantanamo



Amnesty International has posted a notice on its website that U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, will hold a hearing to examine the implications of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  It is to be the "first Congressional hearing on closing Guantanamo since the first year of the Obama Administration."  


According to Amnesty's website:  


The hearing will examine legislative proposals to facilitate the closure of Guantanamo, including provisions authorizing detainee transfers in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, which will soon be considered on the Senate floor. The hearing will address the national security, fiscal, and human rights concerns that surround the continued indefinite detention of the 166 remaining detainees at the facility, including the 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer. The hearing will also explore how the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay undermines the moral authority of the United States in the international community and undercuts fundamental values of the American justice system, including due process and the rule of law.


The hearing will be held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.


Amnesty is asking members and concerned citizens to call their Senators to support closing the Guantanamo Detention Facility by  supporting the Guantanamo transfer provisions (Sections 1031, 1032 and 1033) in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1197) as approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee. 


As of July 10th, 106 prisoners at Guantanamo were on hunger strike in a protest that began in February, and the US military refused to stop force feeding the prisoners during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but changed feeding times to accomodate the daylight fast.   On July 18th the number dropped to 75, and most of the men ate a meal, but remain officially on strike.


Here the musician Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) shows what it's like to be force fed under standard Guantánamo Bay procedure:



Journeyman Pictures has created the documentary "A Decade of Injustice" about the Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national who has British residency, who was arrested in 2001 by U.S. forces in Afghanistan who claimed he lead a military unit under Osama bin Laden.  He denies these accusations, and says he went to Afghanistan to help build a girls' school with a charity.  In an recent interview with CNN, Aamer said about his health as he continues with the stike "I am losing my mind, I am losing my health, I am losing my life. They are trying to do as much damage to us as they can before we leave here. They are humiliating us as much as they can. They are harming me as much as they can."