Monday, March 18, 2013

Guantanamo Hunger Strike! Solidarity Vigil and Fast (Berkeley)

Monday, March 18, 6:30-7:30 PM 
MLK Park, Corner of MLK Jr. Way @ Allston Way, Berkeley
across the street from Old City Hall
CONTACT: Cynthia Papermaster, Berkeley No More Guantanamos, 510-333-6097,

On February 6, Guantanamo detainees began a hunger strike. Some of the detainees have lost 20-30 pounds, some are near death, some are being force fed. They are calling for humane treatment and for freedom for the over 80 detainees who've been cleared by the U.S. government for release, but who are still being held at Gitmo, some for over 10 years now.
Berkeley No More Guantanamos and Codepink Women for Peace have called for a one-day fast in solidarity with the hunger strikers, and will hold a candlelight vigil in downtown Berkeley on Monday at 6:30 pm to show their support for the hunger strike and humane treatment for the detainees. People are invited to come with poems, songs, prayers, or heartfelt wishes for the Guantanamo hunger strikers' liberty and safety.
In October 2011 the Berkeley City Council passed Resolution No. 65,491 calling for the closure of Guantanamo Prison and welcoming cleared Guantanamo detainees to settle in Berkeley with the financial support of private citizens. The text of the City Council Resolution is below.
Cynthia Papermaster, of Berkeley No More Guantanamos, points out that "some 86 Guantanamo prisoners were cleared for release years ago, by both the Bush and Obama administrations, but they continue to be held, deprived of their liberty, families, livelihoods, and peace. They're so desperate for their freedom that they are starving themselves and risking their lives to call attention to their situation. Everyone with a sense of justice and compassion should contact Attorney General Eric Holder and demand that the cleared detainees be released."
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison, reports that "Fayiz al-Kandari’s (one of the last two Kuwaitis in the prison) team of military lawyers arrived at the prison on February 25, and the day after announced, 'Fayiz has lost more than twenty pounds and lacks the ability to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time due to a camp wide hunger strike. Apparently there is a dispute over searches and the confiscations. We believe there is a desperation setting amongst the prisoners whereby GTMO is forgotten and its condemned men will never get an opportunity to prove their innocence or be free.'
A March 14 Agence France report said "Lawyers representing Guantanamo prisoners wrote an open letter to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday to highlight the "mass hunger strike" at the facility. Forty-five lawyers wrote to Hagel to warn of the "serious threat to the health and life of detainees". The lawyers noted that as a Republican senator, Hagel had in 2005 warned that Guantanamo's existence meant the United States was "losing the image war around the world." The lawyers said the majority of detainees in Guantanamo's Camp 6 division, some 166 prisoners, had been on hunger strike since February 6, a fact corroborated by attorneys who had visited the camp.  We have also received alarming reports of detainees' deteriorating health, including that men have lost over 20 and 30 pounds (nine and 13 kilos), and that at least two dozen men have lost consciousness due to low blood glucose levels, which have dropped to life-threatening levels," the letter to Hagel said. Lawyers for the prisoners say the hunger strike was triggered by widespread searches of detainees' Korans that had been "perceived as desecration."

Berkeley City Council Resolution No. 65,491, passed October 25, 2011
“…NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Berkeley that the Berkeley City Council:1) Supports and reaffirms President Obama’s call for the closure of Guantánamo in furtherance of our country’s national security interests; and 2) Reaffirms Council’s moral and humanitarian concerns expressed in earlier resolutions; asserts Council’s unwillingness to turn its back on cleared detainees still being held at Guantánamo; and urges that Congress remove bans on the movement of cleared Guantánamo detainees to the U.S.; and 3) Makes known that upon the lifting of Congressional bans and approval by the Department of Homeland Security, one or more cleared detainees would be welcome into the Berkeley community which has offered private support such as the American Friends Service Committee and the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant….”

Please see media articles/videos below for information about the Guantanamo hunger strike.
* 03/17  / Carol Rosenberg  / McClatchy Newspapers  / US Acknowledges 14 on Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Prison []
* 03/14  / Andy Worthington  / A Huge Hunger Strike at Guantánamo []
* Gitmo Hunger Strike: 'Prisoners put their lives on the line in a medieval torture []
* 03/16  / Andy Worthington  / Video: On Guantánamo Hunger Strike, Andy Worthington Tells RT that Prisoners “Feel They’re in a Living Tomb” []
* 03/16  / Deborah Dupree  / Examiner  / Media ignores military forcing tubes into Gitmo hunger strikers Day 39 []
* 03/15  / Agence France Presse  /  Lawyers lobby Hagel over Guantanamo hunger strike []
* 03/17  / Michael Kirkland  / UPI  / Gitmo or the U.S. courts for terror suspects? []
* 03/17  / Peter Finn and Julie Tate  / Washington Post  / Guantanamo Bay detainees’ frustrations simmering, lawyers and others say []

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