Guantanamo Ramadan prayers blocked in attempt to break hunger-strike

By agency reporter
July 24, 2013

Lawyers for Guantanamo detainees have filed an emergency motion in US federal court over the ongoing infringement of their religious rights during Ramadan.

The attorneys – Cori Crider of human rights charity Reprieve and Jon B Eisenberg – point out that Guantanamo authorities are “depriving petitioners of their right to perform nightly communal Ramadan prayers unless they stop hunger-striking.”

They call on the Federal District Court in Washington, DC, to take emergency action to ensure Guantanamo detainees’ religious rights are protected during the holy period of Ramadan. They point out that, “Absent an immediate injunction prohibiting the deprivation of petitioners’ right to pray communally during Ramadan this year, that right will be irretrievably lost.”

The motion cites a report in the New York Times on July 14 which stated that, “at the start of Ramadan . . . the military began moving compliant detainees who were not participating in the hunger strike back into communal living conditions, where they could pray together.”

Crider and Eisenberg also point out that “The right of religious free exercise is a core American value, and to deprive the Guantánamo Bay detainees of that right does great damage to America in the eyes of the world in general and the world’s Muslims in particular.”

Commenting, Cori Crider, Guantanamo attorney and Strategic Director at Reprieve said: “The Government is still clearly engaging in underhand and immoral attempts to break the hunger-strike, by using the detainees’ religious faith against them. It is hard to believe that we are seeing this in a country for which freedom of religion is supposed to be a fundamental value.

"President Obama could stop this hunger-strike tomorrow, simply by beginning to release those men who have been cleared by the US Government. It is depressing that he is instead giving the green light to these indefensible attempts to crush a peaceful protest.”


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