By Carrie Neff Maley, Human Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International USA
Today marks the 100th consecutive day that detainees at Guantanamo have been refusing food as part of a hunger strike that began in Camp 6 at the facility. According to a letter addressed to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and signed by 50 attorneys representing detainees, the hunger strike which began on February 6, 2013, was initiated in response to,
“[W]idespread searches of detainees’ Qur’ans—perceived as religious desecration — as well as searches and confiscation of other personal items, including family letters and photographs, and legal mail, seemingly without provocation or cause.”
Both the hunger strike and the brutal practice of force feeding have become a symbol of the deprivation of human rights taking place at Guantanamo. Virtually every personal freedom has been stripped from the detainees, most of whom have not been charged with any crime and are not facing trial.
Guantanamo Bay has been the site of indefinite detention and numerous other violations of human rights since 2002. It is also, as Rolling Stone’s John Knefel calls it, “the site of a unique legal experiment that has no direct precedent in U.S. history.”
On April 30, President Obama told the American people, “I think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this. Why are we doing this?”
Death should not be the only way out of Guantanamo; and there are alternatives to barbaric force-feeding measures only meant to uphold an unlawful and immoral system of detention. Dozens of detainees have been cleared to leave and can be transferred under current U.S. law. The remaining individuals being held must be charged and fairly tried in federal court or released.
The detainees have been striking for 100 days, but they have been subjected to human rights violations for more than 11 years. Today, we are holding a vigil outside the White House along with several other groups, to send a clear message to the president: the time to close Guantanamo has come.
President Obama, with the cooperation of Congress, must take action and resolve this crisis now.
Join us and help flood the White House with urgent calls demanding action. It’s fast, easy and today especially your calls will be impossible to ignore because Amnesty activists will be on-the-ground, in front of the White House delivering the exact same message.