On July 4th, 2006, I embarked on the “Troops Home Fast” with many fellow activists all over the country. We began the fast in front of the White House and we were planning on ending it in front of the White House on September 21st (World Peace Day), but few of us made it that far.
At the end of July, Iraqi Prime Minster, Nouri al-Maliki said he would meet with Medea Benjamin (CODEPINK) and I, when he was visiting DC, if we would end the fast. Maliki, for some reason, left the Iraqi embassy without meeting with us, so the fast continued. However, some Iraqi parliamentarians were shocked and ashamed of Maliki’s rude treatment of us, so we were invited to meet with the parliamentarians in Amman, Jordan, and that’s when most of the fasters ended their fasts.
I lasted through Jordan and a few days back in the states when I became very ill and had to have two blood transfusions and two emergency surgeries in Waco, Texas in August of ’06…during a Camp Casey protest. So, my fast lasted 37 days when I had to end it under doctor’s orders.
Now, we are going into the 7th year of occupation in Iraq and are in the 8th year in Afghanistan. Although the violence is thankfully lower in Iraq, it came with a horrible price of US genocide and ethnic cleansing. (Plus the over 4000 Americans who are dead for nothing and the tens of thousands who are emotionally, mentally and physically maimed). The Obama regime hasn’t even been sworn in yet, but is promising to increase violence in Afghanistan.
Today, (January 11) is the sick-sick 7th anniversary of the opening of the US torture camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The stain of this facility just about 90 miles off of our shore will live in infamy forever. The regime-elect has promised to shut it down and we can never give up until the last illegally incarcerated detainee is given due process and fair trials, or released and given restitution.
I met a Sheikh in Jordan on that first trip when I was still on the “Troops Home Fast.” He described indescribable horrors after he was beaten and dragged out of his home by US troops and thrown in Abu Ghraib prison. The pictures from that facility shocked us all, but meeting a man who was brutally tortured and has to live in constant pain and takes dozens of pills a day to survive the pain and debilitation the torture caused was very heartbreaking. It made me ashamed to the core of my government that is still trying to claim some kind of moral high ground.
In Cuba and elsewhere around the world, I have met a few detainees that were rounded up and sold to the US military by the Northern Alliance for bounty and sent to Guantanamo. My friends, Asif and Rhuhel’s stories are told in the Mat Whitecross movie, Road to Guantanamo, but the stories they tell in person of being sodomized with broom handles or put in stress positions while being subjected to heat/cold and loud blasting music also make me so ashamed. What is even worse is that the British Government knew that Asif, Rhuhel and their friends weren’t even in Afghanistan at the time they were being accused of consorting with Osama bin Laden, but they had to stay at the prison for over 3 years!
I have been at the barbed-wire barrier that separates the bucolic town of Guantanamo Cuba from the horror-site of the US torture facility with a mother of someone who was being unlawfully detained there, Omar DeGhayes. Omar has thankfully been released, but hundreds remain.
The stain of torture has affected every American—not just the torturers or our selected officials who sanctioned, planned and authorized the obscene policies. How can we as individuals claim to take any moral high ground when our silence gives consent?
Starting today and until the inauguration on the 20th, there is a Fast for Justice in front of the White House to kick off the 100 Days Campaign to close Guantanamo. I couldn’t be in DC, so I will be fasting in solidarity with those people in DC and those people in Guantanamo.
Some of the prisoners at Guantanamo are still being forced fed and some have been there for seven years.
Some people have health/other considerations that would make fasting for nine days difficult. You don’t have to fast for the entire nine days, you can join us for a day, or two, or nine, but there are also other ways of fasting.
I think I can fast for nine days. What can you do?
Fast from TV.
Fast from booze.
Fast from cigarettes.
Fast from coffee.
Fast from one meal a day and give the money you save to a homeless shelter.
Fast from gasoline.
Fast from credit cards.
Send money to organizations that are working for peace.
The only way that we will not be held complicit as the “Good Germans” of the Bush error, is to boldly speak out against the crimes and to do whatever we can to make sure President Obama follows through with his promise to close Guantanamo.
I will be blogging daily about the fast, and would appreciate your comments or fasting stories:
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Guantanamo Bay protester speaks about fast