Fasting, Splashing; how Gitmo detainees protest

Posted at 11:09 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 23:23:03-05

The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is where some of the most dangerous people in the world, according to the US military, are being held.

Their mission was to kill Americans and their allies. For many being held there, that mission never changed. They built shanks out of metal wire and mesh, anything they could get their hands on, to kill and maim military guards.

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“Those are from the old days, when it was Damp Delta. I haven’t seen or heard of any improvised weapons in my time here,” Col. David Heath, Joint Detention Group Commander, said.

Col. Heath has been at Gitmo for 20 months. He says the days of improvised weapons are over. The majority of the detainees behave, but there are still a select few who find creative ways to protest.

“Certain detainees will collect and store bodily fluids: urine, feces, vomit. If they can get the opportunity to throw that on a guard, they will,” Col. Heath said.

That type of assault is called splashing.

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Heath says it’s the most common assault. Guards wear face shields, much like you would see in the OR in a hospital. Heath says guards are forced to turn the other cheek, get checked out by a doctor, get changed, then go back to work.

“I’ve been here a long time and there have been well over 300 assaults on the guards in one fashion or another,” he said. “Through splashing… very crass verbal assaults; racial, sexual, those kinds of things. Or, actual kicking, punching, biting, and not a single guard of mine has ever retaliated against a detainee.”

We sat down with the camp cultural advisor, known only as Zak.

MORE | Military: Detainees behaving in Gitmo

He’s been working at the facility for 11 years. He says there is a small group of what he calls “trouble-makers,” Most of them have been held for more than a decade.

“This group of trouble makers, you know… is the original from back in 2005. They’re just stubborn,” Zak said.

Another form of protesting is fasting.

“Those folks really are given the right to make that protest, make that stand,” the detainee Senior Medical Officer (SMO), whose name is being withheld for security reasons, said.

The SMO wouldn’t say how many detainees are fasting, only saying there is a “very small number” who the military is feeding through tubes.

“We don’t intervene with the enteral feeding until we’re really down to the point of we’re looking at the (disastrous) effects of malnutrition,” the SMO said.