Resisting Hell on Earth: Hunger Strike at Guantánamo

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Frida Berrigan, 347-683-4928  
frida.berrigan@gmail.com      
Jeremy Varon, 732-979-3119
jvaron@aol.com

Resisting Hell on Earth: Hunger Strike at Guantánamo

WASHINGTON - The facts are stark. More than 100 men on a new hunger strike at Guantánamo, now in its fifth week.

The context is heartbreaking. More than half of the 166 men at Guantánamo have been “Cleared for Release” by U.S. authorities. Not charged with any crime of terrorism or violence, they linger in the prison because of the Obama administration’s and Congress’s callous disregard for their basic legal and human rights.   All inmates at Guantánamo — subjected to routine indignities and abuses — are waiting for real justice: their release when innocent or the chance to plead their case in a legitimate court of law.

With no concrete hope of a return to their families and home countries, they choose resistance. They choose more suffering. They hunger strike.

DemocracyNow!, in a story not yet covered by the mainstream press, reported today on the hunger strike and the dire conditions precipitating it, even as the Obama administration defends its Guantánamo record before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Center for Constitutional Rights staff attorney Omar Farah told the commission on March 12, 2013: “Our clients report that most of the men at the prison are now in the fifth week of a mass hunger strike to peacefully protest worsening prison conditions, religious provocation, and the crushing reality that after 11 years in indefinite detention, there is no end in sight to their suffering. In light of the humanitarian crisis unfolding at Guantánamo, it is indefensible that the U.S. government failed to answer the Commission’s simple questions about how it plans to close the prison camp.”

Pardiss Kebriaei, Senior staff attorney for Center for Constitutional Rights, represents a number of men at Guantánamo. After eleven years of detention and with conditions deteriorating, she reports, some of them have lost hope and see no other way to protest their detention and treatment than a hunger strike. CCR has received reports of men coughing up blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, and becoming weak and fatigued. Soon, the men on hunger strike will be risking permanent physical injury and even death.

One of the detainees cleared for release, a Yemeni named Adnan Latif died in September 2012 at Guantánamo.  He describes it as a “piece of hell that kills everything.” Witness Against Torture grieves along with the men at Guantánamo and their families for those who have already died there and for those who still endure the torture of indefinite detention. We gather this weekend in Chicago to strategize and plan and witness.  Please join us if you can, please support our work. Please stand up for hope, life and justice.

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Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. For the first 100 days of the Obama administration, the group held a daily vigil at the White House, encouraging the new President to uphold his commitments to shut down Guantanamo.

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