Source: The News Online
June 11, 2006
By Maria Hawthorne
ONE of David Hicks's lawyers has expressed concerns for the Guantanamo Bay detainee's welfare after three inmates at the US navy base committed suicide.
The US military has confirmed that three foreign prisoners – two from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen – at the prison camp in Cuba hanged themselves with clothing and bedsheets.
Hicks's father, Terry, says it's not surprising that the prisoners committed suicide.
"I think what Americans should look at is the situation in which they're keeping these people, what they're putting them through, how it works on the mind and the end result is what's happened," Mr Hicks told Seven News.
But Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of Guantanamo, told a news conference the suicides were an act of warfare, not of desperation.
The Australian Greens were to attempt to move a motion in parliament on Tuesday calling for the prison camp to be closed following the deaths.
David McLeod, a member of Hicks's legal team, says there have been more than 100 suicide attempts at Guantanamo.
Mr McLeod said Hicks was in poor condition when his US military-appointed lawyer, Major Michael Mori, visited a few days ago.
"He has lost his appetite, his eyes are hollow, he's despairing and, of course, he will now know that three people, probably within only a hundred yards of where he's being held, have committed suicide," Mr McLeod said to the ABC.
"He's in a prison where prisoners are contemplating suicide as their only release."
Mr McLeod said that if the suicides were an act of warfare, the detainees would not have waited for four-and-a-half years.
Almost 500 foreigners are being held at Guantanamo Bay after being captured mainly in the US war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Greens senator Bob Brown said Guantanamo Bay was a mediaeval torture chamber which must be closed.
He was to move a motion in the Senate on Tuesday calling for it to be shut down and Hicks brought home.
"Guantanamo Bay is an illegal torture centre which has no place in civilised society," Senator Brown said.
"It's a throwback to the Middle Ages and it's not Christian.
"The description of the suicides as an act of war by the commander itself warrants psychiatric study."
The Greens have unsuccessfully moved several times in the past for the detention facility to be closed.
But Senator Brown said he believed there was a growing unease among Government members about Guantanamo Bay and Hicks's continuing detention.
"I think members of government will be surely troubled by events in Guantanamo Bay and the fact that David Hicks is being kept there as a caucasian showpiece in amongst the 450 prisoners who remain there," he said.