[JURIST] The US Army has announced that three as-yet-unidentified Guantanamo detainees died early this morning local time in apparent multiple suicides. An official investigation is already underway. These are the first suicides confirmed among prisoners at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] since the facility housing US terror suspects at the naval station there was opened in 2002. A US Southern Command [official website] statement released in Miami says:
Two Saudis and one Yemeni, each located in Camp 1, were found unresponsive and not breathing in their cells by guards. Medical teams responded quickly and all three detainees were provided immediate emergency medical treatment in attempts to revive them.
The three detainees were pronounced dead by a physician after all lifesaving measures had been exhausted. The names of the deceased are not being released. The State Department notified and is in ongoing discussions with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The remains of the deceased detainees are being treated with the utmost respect. A cultural advisor is assisting the Joint Task Force to ensure that the remains are handled in a culturally and religiously appropriate manner.
The U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has initiated an investigation, per standard operating procedure, to determine the cause and manner of death.
Read the full text of the statement
In May, two detainees attempted to commit suicide by ingesting pills [JURIST report]; US Defense Department officials said that another apparent suicide attempt was a ruse to lure guards into a cell where they were ambushed by prisoners. Other detainees have participated in prolonged hunger-strikes [JURIST news archive] in apparent protest of their treatment and indefinite detention without trial.
7:43 PM ET – Military officials said Saturday that the three detainees, who hanged themselves using nooses made from sheets and clothes, had participated in hunger strikes and were among those who have been force-fed [JURIST report]. One detainee was described as a long-term hunger striker, while officials said the other two had joined in the strikes recently. None of the detainees had previously attempted suicide. Reacting to the suicides, rights groups condemned prisoners' continued indefinite detention at Guantanamo. Amnesty International [advocacy website] said the deaths "are the tragic results of years of arbitrary and indefinite detention" and should serve as "an indictment on [Guantanamo's] deteriorating human rights record." The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website], which represents several hundred detainees, called for the detainees to "be taken to court or released." AP has more. Read a transcript of a prepared statement to reporters on the deaths by General John Craddock, the Commander of US Southern Command.