Celebrities and some political figures are fasting in support of inmates who are on a hunger strike since September in the wartime prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
President Donald Trump’s new policy is pushing those inmates to literally die a slow death. Previously, under the Obama administration inmates were forced-fed by military guards before their weight dropped drastically.
But in Trump’s era, they are not fed at all and their medical conditions are also not monitored.
Five men who are on a hunger strike at Gitmo belong to a group of 26 men the U.S. is holding for indefinite detention without charge or trial.
Two of these prisoners have been on a hunger strike since September. Authorities stopped feeding them on Sept. 20. Ahmed Rabbani and Khalid Qasim have been in detention for more than a decade, and they haven’t eaten anything since the past 26 days.
Just recently Qasim told his lawyer from Reprieves about the worsening conditions.
“They have decided to leave us to waste away and die instead,” said the 40-year-old. “I am in so much pain every minute that I know it can’t go on much longer. Now as each night comes, I wonder if I will wake up in the morning. When will my organs fail? When will my heart stop? I am slowly slipping away and no one notices.”
Qasim had this conversation with his lawyer over the phone, and she didn’t have an answer.
Ahmed also told his lawyer how the new regime was being enforced by the most senior doctor on the base. “He wants me to beg him for food, but I will not. He is like a dictator,” he said describing a man who is supposed to take care of the prisoners.
Reprieves, a London-based campaign group, representing several prisoners, have now asked people to fast in support of the protesting prisoners.
“It’s astonishing to me that, 15 years after Guantanamo opened, people are still held there without charge or trial — conditions which some of our clients have chosen to protest peacefully with a hunger strike,” said Shelby Sullivan Bennis, a lawyer at Reprieves.
“Now, under the Trump administration, we are seeing a brutal attempt to break their strike, and prisoners are being denied basic medical care.”
“Hundreds of people around the world are striking with them to help bring attention to this latest crackdown — and to show Donald Trump that he must either charge my clients, or release them,” she added.
Celebrities including Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, comedian Sara Pascoe, actor David Morrissey, director and actor Mark Rylance, Labour politician Tom Watson and French-born actress Caroline Lagerfelt are all fasting in support of the inmates, who are being treated brutally at the notorious prison camp.
Waters, the famed singer, took to Facebook to express dismay over the discouraging condition of the inmates.
Deputy leader of the Labour party Watson published an article in The Guardian asking public leaders to play their part to voice support for the inmates who are serving jail for unknown reasons.
“We should be asking questions of ministers. Why have they not spoken publicly about this? Have they raised it at the highest levels with their counterparts in the U.S.? What responses have they got?” read his post.
He also asked Theresa May to advise Trump to stop the brutality, “She should tell President Trump to close down Guantánamo Bay and give the men locked up there what they have been asking for: a fair trial or a release. When America abandons our shared values, we must play the role of the critical friend.”
However, these inmates' poor treatment under Trump, who wants to “load up” the island prison with more “bad dudes,” is not a surprise. His administration is so inhumane that officials actually call the prison a “very fine place.”
Addressing the concerns of these inmates, or giving them a fair trial might have helped the Trump administration. But apparently, that’s too much for the administration’s ego.
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters