This Week: Close Guantanamo, Stop US Torture of Hunger Strikers
This Wednesday, June 26, is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Veterans who are on hunger strike with prisoners in Guantanamo Bay will come to Washington, DC to protest at the White House. The call for support for this push is made even more urgent by news in the Guardian that the prison has stepped up abuse of the hunger strikers in order to get them to stop their fast.
According to the Guardian, Shaker Aamer, a British prisoner in the camp who has been on hunger strike for four months, reports that the prison is placing the hunger strikers in freezing cold rooms and using metal-tipped feeding tubes.
This is happening because US authorities are getting desperate. President Obama has been forced to say that he wants to close Guantanamo. But we know that he won’t follow through without increased pressure to do so.
Now is the time to make a big push to free the prisoners in Guantanamo! Here is what you can do on June 26:
1. If you can come to Washington, DC, please join us. Details of the plans are at CloseGitmo.net. There are also solidarity actions in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and London. Click here for more information.
2. The protest group in Washington is particularly interested in health professionals who can speak to the press about the medical consequences of being on a hunger strike. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a health professional who is willing to do this.
3. If you can’t make a solidarity protest, call the White House around 12 noon EDT and tell them to end the torture and release the prisoners. Call 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414.
We asked the veterans on hunger strike how they felt about the news that the prisoners are being tortured to get them to end their fast. Here are their responses:
Diane Wilson: “Our government’s sordid attempt to exterminate the hungerstrike at Guantanamo achieves them the graveyard of human rights, and rightly so.”
Tarak Kauff: “The conditions at Guantanamo continue to be horrifying and barbaric. President Obama, who once said “under my administration the United States does not torture,” could stop this with one phone call – immediately. Instead, the President, the U.S. military establishment, and Congress continue to display more inhumanity, more cruelty and indifference to human suffering with each passing day.
And this is the man who promised he would close Guantanamo in a year. Many of the men who are being tortured and held indefinitely have never been charged with a crime, have been cleared for release years ago and yet they continue to remain in that dark hell-hole without hope, with an indefinite, black future ahead of them.
They are human beings with families, who once had lives, hopes and dreams. Shaker Aamer, a British citizen, a decent and courageous man, just recently had a feeding tube pushed into his lungs. He said, “The administration is getting ever more angry and doing everything they can to break our hunger strike. Honestly, I wish I was dead.”
Of course under these unbearable circumstances they would rather be dead. So would I and so would you. I wonder how many broken promises, how many deceptions, from how many successive administrations, the U.S. American public will put up with. In the mean time innocent people suffer unimaginable tortures while the media and the public remain for the most part either unforgivably ignorant or merrily indifferent.”
Elliott Adams: “Anyone who has looked at what is actually happening in Guantanamo knows that it is torture. No matter how much you dress it up in euphemisms, false rationals, and fancy words it is still torture. And like domestic violence, torture keeps escalating and getting worse. Guantanamo is no exception, we started with the 10 to 20 years of solitary confinement and mistreatments. When in desperation the victims went on a hunger strike the guards started force feeding (International Law, the American Medical Association, and the World medical Associations agree it is torture). And then the force feeding itself became a tool of torture and abuse, the tubes get bigger, that handling get rougher, the guards in front of the victims reuse the tubes without washing, taking them from one strapped down victim to another. All the time telling the victims it will get worse if they do not give up the fast. And to add insult to injury the guards put in new repressive rules to deny victims access to their attorneys. Attorneys can no longer call their clients, now the only way they can see their clients is to physically go to Guantanamo. But the unfair new rules don’t stop there, prisoners after seeing their attorney, now they are required to submit to an invasive inspection which violates the principals of their religion. It is so offensive to them that many have stopped seeing their attorneys.”
And from S. Brian Willson, who was on a solidarity hunger strike but had to stop, wrote: “Guantanamo continues a long U.S. historic pattern of domestic cruelty to its own prisoners. The 2001 AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) passed by Congress [HR: 420 to 1; S: 98 to 0], is the authority President Obama claims for waging a diabolical great war OF terror (GWOT) against the whole world. The 166 remaining captives have not seen their families since being brutally snatched from their communities in 25 countries a decade ago upon directives from the U.S. and its secret operatives. The continuing torture of these prisoners is medieval, barbaric, sadistic, and grotesquely illegal. It dehumanizes all of us as we witness our totalitarian country headed by monsters eliminating Magna Carta’s principles of 800 years ago. The 2001 Patriot Act eliminated Habeas Corpus for foreigners, as the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) eliminated it for U.S. citizens deemed by the President as “terrorists.” Please tell me: What is the proportionate response to all this diabolical criminality and barbarity?”
Please take action this week. We can end this great injustice and return the prisoners to their families.