Target: Barack Obama, President of the United States of America
Goal: Free the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and shut the detention camp down forever
A recent hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay – an infamous United States detention camp – has been met with extreme force from the guards. Of the 166 detainees at the camp, more than 40 have been on hunger strike for three months. In response, guards have taken to force-feeding the detainees. Force-feeding is an extremely painful and humiliating process whereby detainees are forcibly strapped down and have feeding tubes forced up their noses, down their throats, and into their stomachs. According to reports from lawyers of the detainees, force-feeding is often rushed and results in painful damage to the victims such as hemorrhaging in the stomach. The Obama administration has campaigned twice now on the promise to close Guantanamo, but the camp still remains open.
According to detainees, the hunger strike began in retaliation to invasive searches by guards which resulted in the defiling of their Korans – closely guarded religious books. However, the hunger strikes have grown to encompass more than resistance to searches—today detainees are protesting their unresolved fate. A recent essay – written by a Yemenis detainee Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel and published in the New York Times – details his experiences. Captured in Afghanistan and accused of being a personal guard of Osama Bin Laden, Samir has been in Guantanamo for eleven years; never charged with any crime or given fair trial. In his book, he recounts his experiences with forced feeding.
According to Samir, the number of detainees on strike has rendered the facility unable to keep up with the forced feedings—there simply are not enough people qualified to carry out the procedure. Round-the-clock feedings at uncertain times are common, and result in rushed and botched jobs. As Samir recounts, “During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily…It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me.” The situation is growing worse everyday; detainees are fainting from exhaustion and some are vomiting blood from the forced feedings. If they resist, they are beaten and strapped down until they acquiesce. Sadly, many of the detainees should not even be at the camp.
Approximately half of the detainees have been cleared for release or transfer, but the US Congress continues to increase the difficulty of moving prisoners. Unable to implement his 2009 order to shut down the camp, President Obama has left many of the detainees at the camp in a hellish purgatory. As Samir concludes, “there is no end in sight to our imprisonment. Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made. I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantanamo before it is too late.” Sign the petition below to show your support for an end to the atrocities at Guantanamo Bay.
Dear President Barack Obama,
Of the 166 detainees who remain in Guantanamo, more than forty of them have been on hunger strike for three months. In response the officials at the prison have taken to force feedings. Strapping the detainees down and forcing a feeding tube up their nose, down their throats and into their stomachs. Because of the lack of qualified medical professionals and the numbers on strike, officials are unable to keep a timely schedule and often rush the procedure. This results in excruciating pain and often serious hemorrhaging. The strike began as a response to camp guards’ invasive searches and defiling of Korans, but has grown to encompass the purgatory that the prisoners now face.
More than half the detainees have been cleared for transfer or release, and yet your administration continues to hide behind the veil of a stubborn congress. You have twice campaigned on the promise to close Guantanamo —it is now time to make good on that promise. Please make every effort to end the atrocities at Guantanamo Bay before it is too late.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy, US Navy via Wikimedia Commons