Where is the world to save us from torture?
Where is the world to save us from the fire and the darkness?
Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?
— from “Hunger Strike Poem” by
Adnan Latif, 37 – found dead in
Guantanamo on Sept. 12, 2012
What would you do if you were imprisoned for more than ten years, without ever being charged with a crime? You were tortured and abused. You could not see your family. Your only visitors were interrogators and lawyers. And then you were cleared for release — deemed by your captors to be no threat — and told that the prison would close. But you remained locked up, with no end in sight. Who would hear your cries? What resistance could you mount?
This is the situation for dozens of men at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo. Fed up with their treatment and spurred by a new wave of abuses, they launched a hunger strike in February that is just now gaining attention in the U.S. press.
Most of the men in Camp 6, the largest in the Guantanamo prison complex, have been on hunger strike since February 6, 2013. Lawyers for prisoners say the men are protesting their indefinite confinement and what they consider intrusive searches of their Qurans. The U.S. government now admits that 21 men are refusing food, though the attorneys insist the number is much higher.
The health of those on hunger strike is deteriorating. Attorneys report that some men have lost 20-30 pounds and that at least two dozen have lost consciousness. According to medical experts, irreversible mental and physiological damage such as hearing loss, blindness, and hemorrhaging may begin to occur by the fortieth day of a hunger strike, and death follows thereafter.
The U.S. Navy reports that 8 men are being force-fed — a practice condemned by some human rights organizations as itself a form of torture, and used in efforts to “break” prior hunger strikes at Guantanamo.
166 men remain imprisoned at Guantanamo. 86 have been cleared for release. All are being subject to indefinite detention, held at the cost of $800,000 per year for each man, at a prison the President of the United States pledged to close on his first day of office in January 2009.
Hungering for Justice – Witness Against Torture Responds
We will gather for action in New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC, Des Moines, Western Massachusetts, and other cities domestically and internationally next week to denounce the barbaric practice of torture and indefinite detention and to demand justice for the men at Guantanamo.
Joined by allies worldwide, Witness Against Torture members will fast for 7 days — Sunday, March 24 through Saturday, March 30– in solidarity with the men in Guantanamo on hunger strike.
Some of us will continue fasting every Friday until President Barack Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo is fulfilled.
We will try to reach the men at Guantanamo, their families, and men formerly detained to let them know that we have not forgotten their suffering.
We will continue to organize, agitate and witness in defense of human rights and the U.S. Constitution.
Find a vigil near you. Or, organize your own event. Even a couple people together in orange and black hoods with signs can get a lot of attention.
Wear and distribute black or orange arm-bands and make a committment to telling everyone you can that you stand with the Guantanamo hunger-strikers.
Join the Fast
We invite you to join us in the fast for whatever period of time you can between March 24-30. We will host a reflection conference call on Thursday, March 21 for those fasting. Let us know if you are fasting for one day or more by emailing email@example.com, and refer to our website for activities going on in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., Northhampton MA, and other cities.
Skip a meal in solidarity with the men at Guantanamo
Flood the prison with mail. Skip a meal and use that time to send it, or donate the food cost to sending the letters (10 letters to Guantanamo cost $11.00). How to send a letter to a Guantanamo detainee.
Organize through social media
Take a photo of yourself in an orange jumpsuit and black hood in a public place (or with some relevant sign) and send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Witness Against Torture on Twitter @witnesstorture
Call the White House and U.S. Military
Call the White House and insist that President Obama fulfill his promise to close Guantanamo. 202-456-1111; submit a comment online.
Call the U.S. Southern Command to decry the conditions at Guantanamo. 305-437-1000
E-mail or write Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel and demand that he rapidly resume the transfers of all the men the Obama administration does not intend to charge.
Write: Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel, 1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301
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For more information on Guantanamo and the hunger strike see:
The Anniversary of the Iraq War and Guantanamo Hunger Strike
Podcast with Cindy Sheehan and Witness Against Torture | March, 2013
Witness Against Torture formed in 2005 when 25 Americans went to Guantánamo Bay to protest the detention facility. Since then, the group has organized vigils, marches, nonviolent direct actions, and educational events calling for the close of Guantánamo, an end to U.S. torture, accountability for the torturers, and justice for the victims. This call to action originally appeared on witnesstorture.org.