Yemenis seek international investigation into alleged Gitmo suicide [Archives:2006/955/Front Page]

June 15 2006

Yemeni and Saudi human rights organizations have requested an international investigation into circumstances surrounding the death of a Yemeni and two Saudi nationals who, according to U.S. authorities, reportedly committed suicide at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

These are the first suicides at Gitmo after 41 suicide attempts alleged by prison authorities. Since it opened, Guantanamo detention center has proven itself controversial, gaining notoriety and wide-scale international condemnation for violating basic prisoners' rights.

In Yemen, human rights organization HOOD called for pressuring the United States to bear its responsibility toward inmates. A funeral is expected to be organized in solidarity with Yemeni victim Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salmi, a native of Ibb province, who was detained three years ago in Pakistan. The U.S. military announced that he committed suicide last week.

HOOD seeks to make Al-Salmi's funeral an occasion to request a neutral investigation and appeal to U.S. authorities to shut down Guantanamo detention center for good.

Many Yemeni and Saudi human rights activists have questioned the U.S. story's authenticity, pointing to the possibility that the three detainees were tortured to death or disposed of intentionally. However, they say such a fact can't be revealed except via a neutral investigation.

Yemeni ruling party web site stated that the Yemeni government will issue a formal statement in coming days to call on U.S. authorities to investigate Al-Salmi's purported suicide.

In Saudi Arabia, the National Human Rights Organization (NHRO) called for an emergency conference involving the nations of which the Guantanamo inmates are citizens. NHRO Chairman Bandar Al-Hajjar said NHRO members already had held an emergency meeting to discuss the Saudi nationals' deaths. He further called for an extensive meeting of Saudi human rights organizations to discuss inhuman conditions and violations at Guantanamo prison.

Moreover, human rights activists and organizations across Europe called for Guantanamo to be shut down permanently. Amnesty International, which has launched campaigns in past years to uncover violations at Gitmo, called on the European Union to exert more effort to shut down the notorious prison. Amnesty also questioned the U.S. story regarding the suicides, requesting an international investigation into the incident.