Yesterday, I was delighted to speak to Michael Slate on his show on KPFK in Los Angeles, as the monstrosity that is Guantánamo reached another horrible milestone — Day 150 of the prison-wide hunger strike that began in early February. Michael and I have spoken many times before (most recently here and here), and our 20-minute interview is here, at the start of the hour-long show.
According to the authorities, 106 of the remaining 166 prisoners are taking part in the hunger strike (the prisoners claim the true total is around 120). Moreover, 45 of these men are being force-fed, a horrible process whereby they are strapped down into restraint chairs twice a day, and have liquid nutrient pumped into their stomachs through tubes inserted up their noses.
For recent discussions of this process by two of the men being force-fed — who, shockingly, are amongst the 86 men cleared for release who are still held — see “Guantánamo Hunger Strike: Nabil Hadjarab Tells Court, ‘I Will Consider Eating When I See People Leaving This Place‘” and “In Court Submission, Hunger Striker Ahmed Belbacha Tells Obama, ‘End the Nightmare that is Guantánamo.'”
This is how Michael described the show:
Friday July 5 is Day 150 of a prison-wide hunger strike at Guantánamo, the prison and torture camp the Bush and Obama administrations have operated since 2002. Over half of the 166 prisoners have already been cleared for release, and only a small number of the rest are actually facing charges. The heroic actions of the prisoners, which continue, have focused international attention on the horrendous and illegal conditions they face. On May 23, Barack Obama gave a major speech in which he again talked about releasing prisoners and closing Guantánamo. Yet nothing has happened.
The show also featured the director and actors from a play in L.A. about imperialism in Africa, and Larry Everest, who I have had the pleasure to meet on visits to the West Coast. Larry is a writer for Revolution newspaper, and the author of Oil, Power and Empire: Iraq and the US Global Agenda.
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).
To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.
On Facebook, Scott Trent wrote:
Listening to this live right now. Andy Worthington speaking on Guantanamo hunger strike, then Larry Everest speaking on the unfolding events in Egypt. Top notch show.
Thanks, Scott. Much appreciated.
Scott Trent wrote:
Fantastic show!! I missed the middle part about the play, but you and Larry were fantastic.
On Facebook, Neil Mckenna posted the link to the show, and wrote:
Andy Worthington speaking on Guantanamo hunger strike on the Michael Slate show.
Just take the time to listen to this. Just take SOME TIME ( ! ) to take in what is going on in Gitmo.
Ed Rynearson wrote:
Ed Rynearson wrote:
the global war on terror is a hoax and these human beings dressed in orange jumpsuits are effectively props > the gwot is also grotesque projection
Vikki G. Hufnagel wrote:
Thank You I will send you the program I did. The issue in all of our efforts is the lack of organization and public support. In the 60’s I was able to work towards change and make change because we had organizations and planned actions. Actions that took place to educate not alienate the public. Terror acts are real and planned all of the time which is a terrible reality also. Feeding tubes are the answer for the site. But getting support needs to be fundamental as to human rights. Why is the American Red Cross not there? Where is Doctors without Borders? Amnesty International. Trying to to do anything to make change is so hard…we have a collective consciousness that honors reality tv…I appreciate your efforts …
Thanks Ed and Vikki, and everyone who has liked and shared this. Vikki, the US government doesn’t let anyone into Guantanamo who isn’t part of the military or the government except the ICRC and the men’s attorneys (if they have them). It ought to be a disgrace that other outside bodies aren’t allowed to evaluate what’s happening, but sadly most people don’t seem to care. The UN, for example, has been asking to have access to meet with the prisoners for years, but to no avail.
Vikki G. Hufnagel wrote:
Appreciate your efforts. Its time to write all the non profits including Nobel and send them out daily for help. I have projects I can not keep up with. The system fails, over and over again. It is so hard.
Thanks again, Vikki. It is hard not to become despondent when relentless campaigning and educating still leads nowhere – as with the release of prisoners from Guantanamo. A million people signed petitions, international bodies got involved, the media all woke up, and Obama responded with promises but, crucially, no action. Now we need to start campaigning on these same points all over again.
There’s no alternative, of course. Give up, and all these bullies, cowards, opportunists and black propagandists keeping Guantanamo open win.
Vikki G. Hufnagel wrote:
I fight battles all the time…we can not give up …but sometime the theater needs to change…the play take on a different role. The MEDIA as you well know is selective …they fail to move anyone to action
Yes, Vikki, the mainstream media are apparently fooled by their own notion that there is such a thing as “objectivity” and play into the hands of those with political power who, as a result, get to continue their disgraceful and criminal activities largely unchallenged.
We need to be out on the streets in our millions, but perhaps what we also need is a left-wing news agency, with a very snappy name, that uses social media to send out a very selective number of key messages, using a multi-media approach, and featuring celebrity videos and cutting-edge comedians as well as journalists.
Neil Mckenna wrote:
Hope some listened Andy. I did. I’ve read from your good self on this many times but I got that proper winded thing last night listening to this, it started to hit home.
It’s good to hear that, Neil. It’s generally hard to get across, because it’s not soundbite-y enough, apart from “over half the men still held were cleared for release three and a half years ago.” But when you add all the parts together – the hunger strike, the force-feeding, the men held indefinitely without charge or trial – and realise how, even after Obama’s fine words six weeks ago, no one has been released, and all the prisoners have been failed by all three branches of the US government – Obama and his administration, Congress and the judiciary – your response is entirely appropriate.
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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