In Uruguay, former Guantánamo prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab has awoken from a coma amid an ongoing hunger strike demanding he be allowed to leave Uruguay and reunite with his family in Turkey or in another Arabic-speaking country. Dhiab was imprisoned in Guantánamo for 12 years without ever being charged with a crime. While in Guantánamo, Dhiab also launched a hunger strike to demand his freedom. He was among a group of prisoners subjected to forced feeding.
The Obama administration is refusing to release video of the forced feeding to the public, but did give the redacted videotape to a court, which reportedly shows graphic images of guards restraining Dhiab and feeding him against his will. Human rights groups have long said the forced feeding of Guantánamo prisoners amounts to torture. On Thursday, only hours after Dhiab awoke from his coma, Amy Goodman spoke to him in an exclusive Democracy Now! interview. He was lying on his bed, very weak, in downtown Montevideo. Goodman began by asking him how he feels. Here is the transcript from this segment:
Abu Wa’el Dhiab: “I feel really very, very worse. All my body hurt me, and my kidney, my headache, my stomach, my right side really bad. Many things. But I feel all my body hurt me.”
Amy Goodman: “There’s a battle in court in the United States to release the videotape of your force-feeding in Guantánamo. Can you describe what that force-feeding was like for you?”
Abu Wa’el Dhiab: “Like the United States always say in the media, ‘Human rights, human rights, human rights.’ There’s never in Guantánamo, don’t have any human rights. Never, never, never. He took the video from first time go to me in my cell to move me to chair and give me the tube for give me forced feeding. But if you see this video and see the guard, how treated with me, how beat me, how make with me, that’s not human.”
Amy Goodman: “President Obama says he wants to close Guantánamo. Do you believe that will happen?”
Abu Wa’el Dhiab: “If he wants to close Guantánamo, he can. He can now. Now. He can give order, close Guantánamo. He can close Guantánamo. But he coward. He can’t take this decision, because he scared. But Guantánamo supposed to close, should be closed, Guantánamo, because Guantánamo, that’s not good for the United States. Never.”
Abu Wa’el Dhiab’s daughter is getting married this weekend in Turkey—an event Dhiab had longed to be at. He continues his hunger fast in Uruguay.
Also today: An explosive new report by The Guardian reveals the extensive influence of corporate cash in U.S. elections through third-party groups that do not have to disclose their donors. It is based on 1,500 leaked court documents from an investigation by Wisconsin prosecutors into possible illegal fundraising by Republican Governor Scott Walker for the third-party group, Wisconsin Club for Growth. A conservative majority of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court halted the investigation last July before any charges were filed, and ordered all evidence from the investigation to be destroyed. But at least one copy of the documents survived. Ed Pilkington, chief reporter for The Guardian US, used the files for his report, “Because Scott Walker Asked.” John Nichols, political writer for The Nation, also gave his reaction to the report.
A wave of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines has claimed thousands of lives since Rodrigo Duterte became president in June. Duterte vowed during his campaign to crack down on drug users just like he did as the longtime mayor of the city of Davao, where his strongman tactics prompted Human Rights Watch to call him the “death squad mayor.” His promises to end crime during his presidential campaign earned him a new nickname: “Filipino Trump.” A former hit man testified Wednesday that while Duterte was mayor, he personally ordered him to carry out assassinations. This comes after President Obama canceled a meeting with Duterte during his trip to Laos after he called him a “son of a whore” and warned him not to ask about his so-called drug war.
Finally, StoryCorps, the award-winning national oral history project, has launched a new campaign called #WhoWeAre to feature stories of hope and compassion. Some have a surprising twist. Democracy Now! features two stories: one of Bronx social worker Julio Diaz, who was coming home from work when he had an encounter with a teenager who held him up at knifepoint, and an exchange between a father and son about living out their dreams.
Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.