Fasting for Justice

I do not share many similarities with Sohab Mahud Mohhamed. We are
about the same age. But, he was born in Iraq, I was born in Texas. He
has spent the last seven years enduring torture at Guantanamo, while I
have gone to school and lived amongst family and friends.

But a yearning for human connection amidst disorienting violence led
me to join more than 100 others in a nine day liquids-only fast. The
fast began January 11th, the seventh anniversary of the first
detainees arriving at the prison camp, and will end the morning of the
inauguration when Witness Against Torture launches the 100 Days
Campaign to Shut down Guantanamo.

There are as many reasons for joining the fast as there are people.
Voluntary fasting can be a forceful way to make a political demand.
It also can be an act of solidarity with the 30 detainees currently on
hunger strike at Guantanamo. Fasting has the power to morally awaken
a larger community. And, just as fasting can cleanse the body; it can
spiritually renew the faster. But, perhaps most importantly-- fasting
is a vehicle for mourning and atoning-- in this case, for our
country's crimes and our complicity.

Although each of these factors influenced me, I chose to fast for the
first time in my life as an expression of my overwhelming sense of
hope. Guantanamo is the product of an entire system of greed and
violence that requires us to dehumanize our sisters and brothers. On
the other hand, Fasting, especially in community with others, is an
opportunity to reaffirm our own humanity. We become more aware of our
own weaknesses, but we also gain strength from our interdependence.

As we kicked off the fast in Washington D.C. yesterday, I contemplated
how the self-denial, nonviolence and re-humanization involved in
fasting directly undermine the foundation of Guantanamo. By chipping
away at the inhumane values that allow Guantanamos to exist, my
personal fast is a celebration of hope. In the same way, our
collective fast is a victory, one rooted in the hope for more
victories (personal, spiritual, legal and political) needed to ensure
that Obama has the grassroots support to follow through with his
pledge ""I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and
I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America
doesn't torture. And I'm going to make sure that we don't torture."

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