MANAMA: Government officials are reportedly trying to find out whether any of the six Bahraini detainees at the notorious Guantanamo Bay camp are taking part in a hunger strike. Foreign Ministry officials are reportedly seeking answers from US authorities, according to lawyers representing the six.
More than 200 detainees are reportedly staging a hunger strike at the camp, used for over three years to detain terror suspects without trial.
Lawyers representing the Bahraini six say they are being denied information by the US authorities.
The US lawyers, led by Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, of the New York firm Dorsey and Whitney, are working with members of the dissolved Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
"We were pleased to learn that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will inquire about the health of our clients at Guantanamo Bay, who may be participating in a very serious hunger strike," Mr Colangelo-Bryan said yesterday.
"Without the assistance of the Foreign Ministry, we may not be able to get any information about the physical condition of some of our clients.
"In fact, it has become clear that authorities at Guantanamo will do everything in their power to prevent us from learning about the condition of our clients.
"For example, we recently requested permission to conduct meetings at the detainee hospital with any client who may be hospitalised, during our upcoming visit to Guantanamo.
"We made this request because during our last visit we were prevented from meeting Essa Al Murbati when he was hospitalised due to participating in a hunger strike.
"The US government told us that we would not be permitted to meet any client in the hospital during our entire visit. In this way, the government could prevent us from seeing our clients at all, during a very critical period.
"This is a tremendous concern because we have no reliable way to communicate with our clients and learn about their condition other than through visits."
Mail between the lawyers and their clients is being disrupted, said Mr Colangelo-Bryan,who is scheduled to visit the camp next Thursday.
"Although in theory we are allowed to exchange letters with our clients, the mail system is unworkable," he said.
"Not only can it take months for letters to be delivered normally, but personnel at Guantanamo do not even follow proper procedures in sending mail from our clients.
"The government informed us recently that letters from our clients had been sent to the wrong address by Guantanamo personnel.
"As a result, letters from our clients have been sitting in a government office in Washington DC for up to three months - we don't even know when these letters were sent.
"In light of these obstacles, we need and are very thankful for all help that the Bahraini government can provide."
The six Bahraini detainees at Guantanamo Bay are Juma Mohammed Al Dossary, Essa Al Murbati, Salah Abdul Rasool Al Blooshi, Adel Kamel Hajee, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Abdulla Majid Al Naimi.