Day 152 of the Guantanamo Hunger Strike
One hundred fifty-two days into the hunger strike — and now weeks past President Obama’s renewed promise to close the prison — Guantanamo remains in a state of moral, political, and medical emergency. More than 40 men are being force-fed, in a practice condemned by human rights organizations, medical professionals, and even the head of the US Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
But the resolve of the detained men remains unbroken, as they endure hunger, illness, and new forms of torture in their bid for justice.
Inspired by their resistance, the world community continues to speak out.
This morning, the actor and rap artist Yasiin Bay (aka Mos Def), teaming up with the UK’s Reprieve, released a video showing Bay being force-fed according to the precise guidelines for force feeding at Guantanamo.
*It is a painful piece to view – but we think it important to both WATCH & SHARE ( and use circulating it as an opportunity to invite people to participate in WATs rolling fast )*
Timed for the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the video is already drawing international attention to the barbaric practice of force-feeding, especially during a time of fasting in Islam.
Here in the United States, inmates in the California prison system are undertaking a hunger strike protesting the pervasive use of extended solitary confinement in state prisons. Anti-GTMO activists are signing up for a “pledge of resistance” to such abuses and signing a petition supporting the core demands of the US hunger strike.
Also, hundreds of people around the country continue to engage in solidarity fasts with the hunger strikers in Guantanamo, with several individuals weeks into open-ended fasts. Diane Wilson recently ended her 58 day solidarity fast after scaling the White House fence. At the end of this e-mail, we share a powerful reflection by a member of our extended community who has participated in the solidarity fast.
Finally, word of our actions is making it to the men at Guantanamo, and making an enormous difference to them.
An attorney for several men at Guantanamo recently wrote Witness Against Torture to say:
I was at GTMO all week meeting with clients. I wanted to share with you the following words from . . . Moath al-Alwi, a Yemeni national who has been in U.S. custody without fair process since 2002.
Moath was one of the very first prisoners to reach GTMO, where the U.S. military assigned him Internment Serial Number (ISN 028). He has been on hunger strike since February and the U.S. military is now force-feeding him. Moath shared the following during our meeting, translated as accurately as I could from the Arabic:
“I recently had an interesting conversation with one of the Navy officers in charge of my force-feeding here at Guantanamo. He told he was here to make sure I was treated humanely as I was being force-fed. So I answered through the interpreter, saying:
‘What I am enduring now is torture and the American people will tell you as much. Humanitarian organizations, various human rights bodies, as well as American groups such as Witness Against Torture and Doctors Without Borders have all declared that what is taking place at Guantanamo is a violation of human rights and that it amounts to torture.’
The officer’s face changed and he walked away.”
The men at GTMO are fully aware of your work and their eyes literally tear up when I describe the various protest actions you and your fellow activists have undertaken in solidarity with their plight. To say they are grateful would be an understatement.
Our eyes fill with tears as we contemplate the significance of what Moath shared: that our actions — however inadequate we feel them to be — help the men at Guantanamo resist assaults on their dignity and confront their persecutors, with added confidence in the justice of their position and the world’s concern for their plight. There can be no greater affirmation of the value of our efforts, nor greater motivation for us to work harder.
Jeremy Varon & Matt Daloisio
for Witness Against Torture