Global Days of Protest Mark 100th Day of Guantánamo Prisoners' Hunger Strike

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


This report was contributed by a reader:

The vast majority of the 166 men still held prisoner in Guantánamo detention camp remain on hunger strike, many for more than 100 days. (For in-depth analysis, see "Guantánamo: The Hunger Strike and the Hellhole of Made-in-America Torture," May 12, 2013.) Although at least 86 men were cleared for release by the U.S. government several years ago—in other words, they have been determined by their captors to have committed no crime—they remain in indefinite detention. In fact, in the last two years the only ones who left Guantánamo went in a coffin.

The cruelty that is "business as usual" at Guantánamo has only intensified as the men's conditions deteriorate. Jason Leopold, writing from Guantánamo in Truthout, reported on May 15 that a new policy has been implemented. Prisoners must now submit to a "pat down" of their genitals and buttocks in order to see their lawyers, overturning long-standing policies that recognized cultural sensitivities that make this particularly degrading and humiliating.

May 17 was the 100th day of the hunger strike that has finally forced Obama to publicly speak about Guantánamo for the first time in years. The London Campaign to Close Guantánamo called for Global Days of Protest on May 17-19 to mark the occasion, to step up the support for the hunger strikers, and to demand their release. Many actions were held in the U.S. (Chicago, New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Seattle, cities in Ohio and California, Hawai'i, and more) and around the world (Sydney, London, Mexico City, and elsewhere).

The World Can't Wait, Witness Against Torture, and Amnesty International were joined by other groups around the U.S. in organizing actions in this country. In New York, Times Square was the scene of a lively march and the debut of a new "Song for the Guantánamo Hunger Strikers" by the Peace Poets. (Video at

In London, a "murder scene" was staged in front of the U.S. Embassy on Saturday, May 18, "to highlight the potentially fatal effects of this hunger strike and the culpability of the U.S. administration for the deaths of prisoners who have died there, all of whom faced no charges or trial, and in the case of the last fatality [Adnan Latif] had long been cleared for release," as the London Guantánamo Campaign stated.

In Chicago, a rally was held in Federal Plaza, featuring a defense attorney whose client in Guantánamo is on hunger strike and a victim of earlier made-in-the-USA torture under the Pinochet regime in 1973 in Chile, among others. This was followed by a march up State Street in the middle of rush hour traffic. And in the San Francisco Bay Area, protests were held at the Boalt Hall law school graduation against Guantánamo, John Yoo (author of the infamous "torture memo" under Bush who teaches at Boalt) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, current attorney general and perpetrator of war crimes who was the commencement speaker this year.

The World Can't Wait has launched a drive to publish a powerful statement to "Close Guantánamo, Stop the Torture" as a full-page ad in the New York Times very soon. As the ad states, "It is up to the people to stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so. The fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government's policies are inextricably intertwined with our own; we must listen and respond to their cry for justice." Nothing like this has been published in the Times in years, challenging Obama's refusal to act to close Guantánamo in the context of "larger, alarming developments" such as targeted killings across borders, persecution of whistle blowers like Bradley Manning, and actions "amounting to war crimes." The statement has been signed by Guantánamo defense lawyers, leading international law experts, journalists like Glenn Greenwald, academics and cultural figures such as John Cusack, Junot Díaz, Dave Eggers, Eve Ensler, Mark Ruffalo, and Alice Walker, and more than 1,100 other supporters from around the country. More than $40,000 of the $52,000 needed for publication has been raised. To read more, sign and contribute, go to

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