Moath al-Alwi, a hunger striker at Guantanamo Bay. A feeding chair at the prison. right: Chantal Valery/Getty Images
Editor's Note: The following is by Moath al-Alwi, a Yemeni national who has been in U.S. custody since 2002. He was one of the very first prisoners moved to Guantánamo Bay detention camp, where the U.S. military assigned him Internment Serial Number (ISN 028). The article was translated from the Arabic by his attorney, Ramzi Kassem.
I write this after my return from the morning’s force-feeding session here at Guantanamo Bay. I write in between bouts of violent vomiting and the sharp pains in my stomach and intestines caused by the force-feeding.
The U.S. government now claims that, among the 164 prisoners at Guantanamo, there are fewer than two dozen hunger strikers, down from well over 100 back in August. I am one of those remaining hunger strikers. I have been on hunger strike for almost nine months, since February.
The guards dragged me out of my cell at around 8:20 a.m. As they took me, shackled, past the other cells and toward the restraint chairs — my brothers and I call them torture chairs — I could barely breathe because of the smell. Some of my brothers are now tainting the walls of their cells and blocking the air-conditioning vents with their own feces in protest.
The force-feeding remains as painful and horrific as the last time I described it. The U.S. military prison staff’s intent is to break our peaceful hunger strike. The result can be read all over my body. It is visible on my bloodied nose and in my nostrils, swollen shut from the thick tubes the nurses force into them. It is there on my jaundiced skin, because I am denied sunlight and sleep. It is there, too, in my bloated knees and feet and my ailing back, wrecked from prolonged periods spent in the torture chair and from the riot squad’s beatings. You can even hear it in my voice: I can barely speak because they choke me every time they strap me into the chair.
No form of pressure is too cruel or petty for our captors. They have deprived me of medication for as long as I remain on hunger strike. They have also taken away electric razors necessary for proper grooming and require all hunger strikers to share a single razor, despite the serious health risks that this poses. A rash spread among some of my fellow prisoners because of this measure by prison authorities.