12 July 2013

Guantánamo: Fear and Hunger

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

We print below a column by class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal transcribed from a June 6 prisonradio.org recording.

The word “Guantánamo” has become a watchword for the world. It is a temple of state terror, of imperial fear and American hypocrisy.

Since 2002, it has been transformed from a U.S. naval base on Cuban soil—against the wishes of the Cuban government, it must be said—to a global torture center and an interrogation chamber. Opened under Bush/Cheney and maintained under Obama, it has been a detention center designed for perpetual detention to hundreds of men and boys. An international outcry forced the government to release over 500 men back to half a dozen countries.

Today 166 men remain languishing there with dozens on a hunger strike, an act of desperation after a decade in Guantánamo without charges. Eighty-six men have been cleared for release but remain in chains years later. President Barack Obama campaigned on Guantánamo’s closure. But five years later, it remains. In the last few months, the Obama Administration began seizing family letters and photos, the only connection to their loved ones, as they can’t receive family visitors. In desperation, dozens of men have launched a hunger strike, a desperate measure for a desperate situation.

The government’s response? To lower cell temperatures and to force-feed them by stuffing a filthy tube down their throats to fill aching stomachs. Thus they are torturing men by force-feeding them so that they can live in the torture of indefinite detention.

America boasts to the world of its human rights and its values but they can’t hear them over the cries, screams and moans of the tortured in Guantánamo. Demand that Guantánamo be closed immediately. Free the Guantánamo detainees and return them to their home countries.

From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

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WV Update: Adding insult to extreme injury, the Obama administration refused a request by four Guantánamo inmates on hunger strike that force-feeding be stopped during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on July 8. Some 45 men out of the 106 currently on hunger strike are being force-fed, a procedure that the United Nations and other bodies officially recognize as torture but that the U.S. government cynically describes as “humane, high-quality medical care to preserve life and health” (quoted in “Guantánamo Authorities ‘Planning Ramadan Force-Feeding Factory’,” London Guardian, 5 July).

The authorities claim that Ramadan will be respected while holding out the option to force-feed in the daytime if “any unforseen emergency or operational issues” arise. Even so, as a legal filing by the inmates’ attorneys notes, “fasting detainees, who may not take water during the daylight hours of Ramadan, will be spending up to four more nighttime hours without access to water as well as being under physical restraint, putting them at substantial risk of dehydration and sleep deprivation.” Free the detainees now! U.S. out of Guantánamo!

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1027, 12 July 2013)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.