Activists across the country began a week-long fast on Sunday in solidarity with the hunger striking detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison in a mass action meant to remind the prisoners and their families that "we have not forgotten their suffering."
Organized by the Guantanamo prisoner rights group Witness Against Torture (WAT), the protest is scheduled to last through Saturday, March 30. Throughout the week, vigils and rallies are scheduled in cities nationwide including New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Des Moise, Los Angeles, and Northampton, Mass.
"We will gather [...] to denounce the barbaric practice of torture and indefinite detention and to demand justice for the men at Guantanamo," the group writes in a call to action. "We will continue to organize, agitate and witness in defense of human rights and the U.S. Constitution."
According to the group, some demonstrators will continue to fast every Friday "until President Barack Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo is fulfilled."
Many hunger strikers at the prison have not eaten since February. Attorneys for the detainees estimate that over 100 prisoners are taking part in the protest—though prison officials have only acknowledged about twenty of the men. Representatives and supporters of the detainees at Guantanamo have become increasingly concerned over the health of the strikers and worsening conditions for those being held at the prison.
Speaking with RT on Sunday, Lt. Col Barry Wingard, a US military attorney who advocates for the detainees, describes the men living 'in animal cages.' The interview continues:
Wingard: The last time I saw my clients was between the February 25 and March 8. I visited with them multiple times. I was shocked at the condition they were in. In fact, we were the first people who broke the story that the hunger strike had begun around February 6 or 7 and had continued on. My client at that point had lost 26 pounds (12kg) and at this point it’s official that he’s lost almost 40 pounds (18kg) – one third of his body weight from 147 pounds (67kg).
RT: How long can they go on like that?
Wingard: I can imagine we’re getting near to the end when something serious is going to happen. The administration down in Guantanamo Bay initially denied the report that the hunger strike was occurring. They then said it was seven, then 14, then 21 people. They then said it wasn’t the largest hunger strike in history. Then they came out and said it’s 24, 25, and today 26 people. So the story is getting more accurate as we go, but we’re running out of time.
RT has also published a timeline cataloging the details of the ongoing prisoner hunger strike.