Why I Am on a Hunger Strike to Shut Down Gitmo

by DIANE WILSON

As a fourth generation shrimper and an environmental activist on the Texas gulf coast, I have gone on hunger fasts to protect the seas that my community of fishermen depend upon. I know how far I would go to be heard. To have a voice. To push for justice. So I can vouch for the experts who say that the 100+ hunger strikes happening now in Guantanamo prison reflect the level of desperation and despair felt by the prisoners there. The detainees are screaming for justice from the outside world. And now they are being heard.

Here is one despairing voice:

Adnan Latif spent 10 years in Guantanamo without being charged. He was a poet, father and a husband and had been cleared for release four times. Yet he continued to be imprisoned. He was found dead in his cell, one of 9 men who have died at Guantanamo. In his own words, Latif asked, “Where is the world to save us from torture? Where is the world to save us from the fire and sadness? Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?”

My question is a lot more personal: Where are we, citizens of America?

This is a US detention and interrogation center. A prison, by all counts. Many have called it a gulag, a shame, a scandal, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The vast majority of the 166 men still trapped at Guantánamo have been held for more than 11 years without charge or fair trial. Eighty-six Guantanamo prisoners were cleared for release more than three years ago. The Navy, Army, and Marines have no reason to press charges.

Currently, more than 100 detainees are on a hunger strike, with 21 being force-fed and 5 hospitalized. The forced tube feeding, according to prisoners who have experienced it, is itself an act of torture and very debilitating. A medical back-up team of at least 40 has arrived at Guantanamo Bay as the number of inmates taking part in the hunger strike continues to rise, fueling speculation that the condition of the hunger-striking prisoners is deteriorating.

If the chains of good ol’ American indifference continue, hard and unabated, as they have currently been, then the men of Guantanamo Bay might remain there until hell freezes over.

Where are you, Mr. President?

When President Obama took office in 2009, he vowed to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year. It’s 2013 and the prison still stands, prisoners remain– but in solitary confinement, ostensibly to reduce camaraderie and hopefully those hunger strikes! Some consider Guantanamo President Obama’s Shame. However, according to President Obama’s speech on Tuesday, he wasn’t a bit surprised they were having problems. Obama called Guantanamo unsafe and expensive to the US taxpayers and said it lessens cooperation with US allies. He said he would really like to shut it down and he is going to work on it!

Okay, President Obama, the time to talk and ruminate is over with. Now is the time for action. And what can you do? Well, pardon a back woods shrimper from the gulf coast for saying this: Congress may have imposed unprecedented restriction on detainee transfers, but you, Mr. President, still have the power to transfer men right now. You can and should use the certification/waiver process created by Congress to transfer detainees.

According to the ACLU, there are two essential steps the president can take. One is to appoint a senior point person so that the administration’s Guantanamo closure policy is directed by the White House and not by Pentagon bureaucrats. The president can also order the secretary of defense to start certifying for transfer detainees who have been cleared, which is more than half the Guantanamo population.

You, President Obama, must demonstrate immediate, tangible progress toward the closure of Guantanamo, or the men who are on hunger strikes will die, and you will be ultimately responsible for their deaths.

Where are you, Congress?

Well, Congress, you must not sleep well at night.  And contrary to what you believe or what you might believe the American people believe, you can not incarcerate forever a group of people who have not been tried.  Sticking them in Cuba will not hide the fact, either. Just as the infamous prison in Northern Ireland where men such as Bobby Sands conducted hunger strikes, died, and stained forever Britain’s human rights record, so Guantánamo stains America.

And where am I? Well, I know where this one American is.  I stand in solidarity with the Guantanamo prisoners on their hunger strike and I have been, and will continue to, fast indefinitely until justice comes.  Shut Guantanamo down!

Diane Wilson is a fourth-generation shrimper, environmental activists, and peace advocate from the Texas Gulf Coast.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
David Yearsley
A Rising Star Over a Dark Forest
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman