The hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay is proof of the lawlessness of the system and the government’s moral failure. During February this year, several detainees refused to have food and went on a hunger strike.
The government reports around 40 prisoners have taken part, however, according to the detainees’ lawyers; their clients have informed that around 130 inmates are taking part in the hunger strike. While the accounts may vary regarding the number of inmates who have refused to eat and drink, all the sources agree that a considerable number of captives have organized a hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay.
There have been many instances before when such protests were held at the facility ever since it became operational in 2002. The most notable were the ones which began during the middle of 2005, when the detainees organized hunger strikes to protest for their innocence and the brutality of the authorities towards them and their religious practices.
Captives who refused to eat or drink had to be restrained in a feeding chair with their arms, legs and head strapped to the chair until the food was digested properly. Though internationally it is the doctor’s duty to respect the protest and the striker’s decision not to eat anything, the American policy on the other hand directs to force-feed the prisoners for their own ‘safety and welfare’.
But this time the reason behind the strikes is disappointment and despair. There are 166 prisoners behind the bars and freedom was guaranteed to almost 86 of them by the President Barack Obama administration three years ago. Obama reiterated promise to close down Gitmo. You can watch his interview in the video below:
President Obama has yet again signed a military budget this year that has nearly made it impossible to close down the prison camp. In fact, the bill has ‘raised the possibility of arresting and detaining an American citizen without due process’.
Those who had been cleared of all charges were hopeful that they would finally be free of the worse-than-death life at the detention camp. Now that the same government has been re-elected and absolutely nothing has changed for the inmates, they are “devastated”, they feel betrayed.
Due to the lack of political will and interest in the release of the captives, the powerless and helpless inmates have resorted to a hunger strike. It is the only way and the only thing they can do within the walls of the military detention facility. They were shown a mirage of freedom by those who can actually get them out of the purgatory of indefinite suffering. And now that the captives have realized it, they want to protest and want to get themselves heard. They prefer death to the miserable life they are enduring, not living, at Gitmo.
Psychologists for Social Responsibility, PsySR, is an independent, non-profit organization that applies psychological knowledge and expertise to promote peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability. They have sent an open letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him to address the worsening hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay in a manner that respects the concerns and autonomy of the detainees.