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Thanksgiving: Witness Against Torture Fasting In Guantanamo

“We Have Come Here To Stand With You”
Greetings from Guantanamo

Fourteen members of Witness Against Torture have been in Guantanamo province for 3 days now, vigiling in solidarity with the 107 men remaining at the US detention camp.

As the group left from Havana, we were moved to hear a solidarity statement given by Shaker Aamer, released from Guantanamo just weeks ago.  It reads:

I give thanks to my lord and then to all the good people all over the world who’ve worked so hard over the years for my release and to support justice. I’m grateful to Witness Against Torture for travelling so far and carrying a message of hope to my brothers in Cuba. I want my brothers to understand that everyone is working hard for their release and ask them to work together to help each other so that others can help them. No one in the world should accept what’s happening in this prison. Guantanamo has been built for one reason and that is to destroy human beings, mentally, physically and spiritually. I truly thank Witness Against Torture, Save Shaker and We Stand With Shaker for telling the whole world about the suffering of my brothers still there. Thank you to all and every one and every group and establishment who stands for justice. May Our Lord Allah, guide us all. 

Ex-hostage 239, Shaker Aamer

Witness Against Torture in Guantanamo 11-26-15

Action on the Ground

At dusk on Wednesday, we established camp at El Mirador – scenic grounds overlooking the base from a distance of 2-3 kilometers.  To close our first day, Peace Poet Frank Lopez led us in a Four Directions ceremony that came from the traditions of the Arawak peoples, who are indigenous to Cuba.

On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, we faced the base directly and announced one-by-one our political, personal and spiritual intention in being there.  Each person’s words were followed by the somber singing of “Courage, Muslim Brother”:

Courage, Muslim brother
You do not walk alone
We will walk with you
And sing your spirit home. 

Anger, compassion, hope, and tears flowed during the two-hour ceremony.  Cuban visitors at the overlook observed our act, adding their humble support for a moving cause.  Many of the speakers referenced the years of demonstrations all over the world to close the base and the countless people who have participated in them.  Two of the intentions are shared at the end of this email.

To conclude the day, we performed a Thanksgiving ritual titled “Forced-Feeding, Not Feasting at Guantanamo.”  Twelve persons, all fasting for the day, sat at a table in front of empty plates to represent the terrible pain endured by hunger strikers, past and present, at Guantanamo.  At the head of the table, one WAT member dressed as a detained man sat in front of the terrible apparatus of forced feeding.  Forced-feeding continues to be used to wound the bodies and break the spirit of hunger-striking men.

Global allies have joined us in acts of protest and solidarity.  Nearly 50 members of Code Pink, in Cuba for a conference opposing the presence of the US naval base in Guantanamo, fasted on Thanksgiving Day.  Members of We Stand with Shaker, which helped to bring Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo to the UK, held a vigil at the US embassy in London.

Witness Against Torture will be at the US naval base until Sunday, and in Cuba until Tuesday.  We will continue to bear witness in powerful and creative ways and build a global community calling for justice at Guantanamo and the world.

We thank our families, who have made this important trip possible; the kindness of friends and allies, who have supported us with their solidarity efforts and well wishes; the Cuban people for their hospitality and to whom Guantanamo rightfully belongs, and the detained men themselves, who have inspired us with their courage.

Mark Colville, Matthew W. Daloisio, Luke Nephew Peace Poet, Frida Berrigan, Jerica Arents, Frank Antonio López, Chris Knestrick, Justin Norman, Marie Shebeck and Uruj Ehsan Sheikh in Guantánamo, Cuba Circling up at Guantanamo.
Mark Colville, Matthew W. Daloisio, Luke Nephew Peace Poet, Frida Berrigan, Jerica Arents, Frank Antonio López, Chris Knestrick, Justin Norman, Marie Shebeck and Uruj Ehsan Sheikh in Guantánamo, Cuba Circling up at Guantanamo.

Participate with us through fast and pray

We would like to invite you to participate in a pilgrimage of prayer, meditation and fasting through December 1st. We ask folks who sign up to fast in any form they like for 24 hours on the date they sign up on.  Please click here to sign up to join the rolling fast.

For up-to-date photos, reports and materials, follow us on FacebookTwitter

For media coverage see:

– Guardian

– Common Dreams

– Center for Constitutional Rights

– Public Seminar

– Democracy Now

– Telesur

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