day 65 of Guantanamo hunger strike

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On April 11th, supporters across the U.S. demonstrated solidarity with prisoners suffering systemic brutality at America's off-shore prison camp, demanding an end to indefinite detention and closure of the facility.


In San Francisco, a spirited, diverse crowd of protesters was in the streets of downtown San Francisco during rush hour, demanding "Close Guantánamo!" and "End Indefinite detention!"  We gathered at the Federal Building, hoisting banners, tying orange paper armbands on, and many getting into jumpsuits and hoods.  Initiated by World Can't Wait, the action grew to 30 people, representing many groups: Amnesty International (AI), the Bradley Manning Support Network, Code Pink, School of the Americas Watch. The AI intern crew arrived, having marched all the way from their office in their own jumpsuited procession to join us.  As the AI group stood like statues around one kneeling "prisoner" gagged with an American flag - another nine jumpsuited protesters donned placards bearing the names and death dates of all nine men who have died at Guantánamo to date...

As we set up, World Can't Wait and AI people flyered federal workers and passer-bys.  Then and all afternoon it was disturbing and striking to see how many people know little or nothing about Guantánamo - that it's still open, that 86 prisoners have been cleared for release but not released - let alone knowing anything about the hunger strike now in its 61st day.  Later, at the vigil, we did meet a few people who know Guantánamo is a horror - one man angrily said he cannot understand why it hasn't been closed, and the men either charged or released.  A college student had read about the hunger strike in the New York Times.  Another young woman had seen a flyer from our Good Friday action on a friend's refrigerator, and looked us up on the Internet.

We listened to facts about the hunger strike, then two women in jumpsuits read to us the statement of prisoner Musa'ab al-Madhwani. (This recent legal statement given to his lawyer should be read by every person in this country - text available atAndy Worthington's website.)  Then the slow "procession of prisoners" began moving down Market Street (San Francisco's main drag).  People stopped in their tracks to watch us pass.  With a bullhorn, we informed the whole street about Guantánamo and the hunger strike.  From many onlookers, there were some "thank yous" and occasional applause.  Also of course the usual number of catcalls and curses. Flyering continued.

At the cable car plaza, we vigiled in a large open circle, listening to speakers taking turns on the bullhorn.  We shared the news of the worsening conditions inside Guantánamo - horrific details known to the world only because prisoner Shaker Amer was able to speak once by phone with his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith of the London-based Reprieve organization.  (This full Reprieve report is also available on Andy Worthington's website.) We heard an update about Bradley Manning whose courage gave the world the Guantánamo Files, and we heard about America's long history of torture including Latin America

As we described the renewed efforts by the prison to stop this hunger strike (the Forced Cell Extractions, sleep deprivation, the vicious beatings out of camera sight, forced-feedings) more than twice someone in the crowd shouted back: "That's exactly what they do to us HERE, in the prisons HERE!"  (Yes, these friends were Black - and Yes, we'd answer, you're right!  Where did the Guantánamo torture techniques originate anyway, but in prisons inside the U.S.)

New people were constantly stopping and then staying to hear more, to take flyers, and to talk - eventually the circle was about 100 strong.  We ended the vigil breaking into bold chanting led by AI and World Can't Wait: "Close Gitmo NOW!  Close Gitmo NOW!"

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This page contains a single entry published on April 13, 2013 2:27 PM.

news about the hunger strikes is gaining momentum was the previous entry in this blog.

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