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VFP Members on Hunger Strike


Close the US Prison at Guantanamo!
End Indefinite Detention and Torture of Innocent Prisoners!

Join the June 26 Action in Washington, DC

By Gerry Condon

Four members of Veterans For Peace have been fasting in solidarity with the hunger striking prisoners at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Diane Wilson, co-founder of Code Pink and a VFP member, has not eaten for 44 days.  She has been on a water-only fast for most of that time, but included juice while attending to the death of her sister in Texas.  Diane has lost over 40 pounds.

Brian Wilson, fasted publicly in Portland, Oregon for 28 days, taking in less than 300 calories a day, and losing 24 pounds.  Last week, Brian was hit by a car while riding his hand-powered bicycle, and he is following doctor’s orders to suspend his fast and eat while healing from his physical and psychological wounds. Brian will consider re-joining the fast at a later time.

Elliot Adams, former VFP national president, is currently on day 29 of his hunger strike.  He is also taking in less than 300 calories a day, and has lost 30 pounds.

Tarak Kauff, VFP Board member, is on day 7 of his hunger strike.

Why have these four VFP members taken such drastic action?  Here is what Elliott Adams told Medea Benjamin in a Huffington Post interview:

Why did you decide to take this dramatic action, which entails such personal sacrifice?

What is happening in Guantanamo is despicable. Just think about it: 86 prisoners are cleared by the government -- the Department of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security over a year ago, and they're still being held. Many of them have been held for over 11 years!

The prisoners in Guantanamo are desperate. They see no sign that they will ever get out of that place. They've tried the legal route but now realize that even though the government has decided not to charge them and admits that they're not a threat to U.S. national security, they're still going to be held. The only way they can see to get out is to starve themselves. That is a level of desperation that Americans don't understand. And instead of releasing them or giving them trials, the government is brutally force-feeding them.

It's disgusting. It's a violation of our moral and religious principles, international law, national law; it's a violation of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the things that are supposed to define America. It goes against the very principles I thought the American flag stood for when I was a young man. I just can't sit and enjoy my life when my country is doing such terrible things to these people. It's up to us to force our government to get them out of there.

You can read Medea Benjamin’s entire interview with Elliott Adams here.

Long time activist, writer and Vietnam veteran Brian Willson, who had both legs amputated below the knee after a train shipping weapons to Central America ran over him in 1987, wrote the following : "The continuing captivity and maltreatment of these prisoners is medieval, barbaric, sadistic, and grotesquely illegal according to both U.S. and international law. It dehumanizes all of us." 

Fourth generation shrimp boat captain Diane Wilson: 

 

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

 

Tarak Kauff’s statement, in part:

It is worth mentioning that we all owe a debt of gratitude to heroic whistle-blowers like Bradley Manning, who, at great personal sacrifice, made much of what we know today of the abuses at Guantánamo available for public scrutiny. Guantanamo, the government's imprisonment, torture (11 months solitary confinement) and prosecution Bradley Manning. the ongoing U.S. global war of empire and terror, the racism, the targeting and mass domestic imprisonment of people of color, the horrific conditions in our domestic, it's all connected.

 

It is up to human beings of conscience, to take the risks, step out of our comfort zones and do our utmost to end this disastrous reign of U.S.military and corporate-controlled government. We are indeed our brother's keeper. The U.S. corporate/military/industrial monstrosity, its policy of unending war is not only torturing prisoners at home and abroad but devastating the natural earth we all depend upon for survival.

 

If we do not act with determination and courage now, we can be assured that we, our children and their children will reap the results of our inaction. Is that what we want? 

 

Rise up America! Shut down Guantánamo! 

 

Elliott Adams in his statement, Why I Fast, wrote the following for all of us:

 

We can end this terrible travesty of our values, but it will take a broad-spectrum critical mass that includes Christians, Muslims and Jews, Democrats and Republicans, leftists and conservatives. This is an affront to what all of us believe in. I beg you to join the effort to get the prisoners out of Guantanamo and shut that place down. Fast if it feels right for you, call your congressman, sign the petitions, they are all good. But I need you, the prisoners need you, indeed our nation needs you to educate yourself about this travesty so you can be a spokesperson for the simple decency, for the basic humanity that you believe in. You may reach out based on your religious beliefs, or based on the law, or based on labor principles, or based on what you believe the American values are.  You can talk to one person or a hundred, you can twitter, or facebook, or organize actions, but please reach out to everyone and anyone everywhere and anywhere.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said- "These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest."

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June 26 Actions in Washington, DC – Shut Down Guantanamo!

The action on June 26th is still not completely fleshed out but is definite and significant.  

What is known:  You can sign up to participate and to receive information as soon as more is decided at witnesstorture@gmail.com, and also check at www.CloseGitmo.net for information.

Please disseminate information to your networks.  

Organizations include Witness Against Torture, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, CloseGitmo.net, and others. We hope to have 86 people in orange jumpsuits, representing the 86 in Guantanamo currently cleared for release.  The procession will likely leave from a coalition event (organized by NRCAT and TASSC, scheduled for the morning - details forthcoming).  

There will be a civil resistance action for those willing to risk arrest (you can process in a jumpsuit without risking): can we get high-profile leaders like Cornel West involved? 

People are encouraged to come into town the night of Tuesday June 25.  Sleeping space is available at St Stephen's and the Incarnation Episcopal Church at 1525 Newton St NW  Washington, DC 20010 that night.

People are encouraged to attend the NRCAT/TASSC panel on Tuesday night featuring Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture; there may be a candlelight vigil afterwards.

Other Actions You Can Take

Participate in the “Rolling Fast” and Letter Writing Campaign of Witness Against Torture

Check out Code Pink’s menu of suggested actions.

Get regular updates at www.CloseGitmo.net and www.witnesstorture.org.

VFP Members – Try to make it to Washington DC on June 26 to show solidarity for ALL the hunger strikers, in Guantanamo and in the U.S.

If you can’t make it to Washington on June 26, consider organizing a local solidarity action.

 

 

Adnan Latif, a 37-year-old man from Yemen, was cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama administrations and by a U.S. court but then his writ of habeas corpus was overturned by the DC Circuit Court, a ruling the Supreme Court let stand. He died on September 12, 2012, after more than 10 years at Guantánamo. Before his death he wrote,

 

"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?"

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