A Republican congressman on Wednesday accused lawyers for detainees at Guantanamo Bay of instructing and encouraging their clients to go on hunger strike.
Mike Pompeo (R-KS) claimed at a Senate hearing on closing the Gitmo prison that “there are no human rights violations occurring at Guantanamo Bay” — about which audience members openly grumbled — and later dismissed the ongoing hunger strike there as merely a “political stunt” put on, in part, by detainee lawyers:
POMPEO: I want to dispel a couple of facts right up front. … There are no human rights violations occurring at Guantanamo Bay. … And i’d be remiss given the situation not to talk about the current hunger strike there. This is a political stunt. It’s orchestrated or encouraged at least in part by counsel for the detainees, and should not be rewarded. Claims that the efforts by our guards to force-feed those GTMO detainees currently refusing nutrition are inhumane and should cease are simply wrong. The methods used by military personnel to feed those detainees who wish not to feed themselves meet court approved standards and are carefully monitored by medical personnel and those in command. It is right to continue to provide these detainees nutrition.
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ThinkProgress asked Pompeo’s office for evidence to back up this charge — as a number of detainee lawyers have actually been pushing proposals to try to end the hunger strike — but we have yet to receive an official response.
Carlos Warner, a lawyer representing several Gitmo detainees, some of whom are on hunger strike, rejected Pompeo’s charge.
“The men have been engaged in a peaceful hunger strike for nearly 6 months,” he said in an email. “I and my colleagues have hoped this strike would end for the good of our clients. To say we had any part of planning or orchestrating this protest is not only insulting and disrespectful, but it is also completely ignorant.”
Pompeo has been a vocal advocate for keeping Guantanamo open. In another recent comment trying to downplay the hunger strike, he claimed that the detainees refusing food are actually putting on weight.