Protesting Torture, with Torture, at the White House
U.S. hunger striker and activist Andrés Thomas Conteris will be force-fed in front of the White House today. The force-feeding is being done in public to draw attention to the force-feedings happening daily to prisoners in Guantánamo Bay.
Dozens of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay began a new hunger strike began last February due to deteriorating conditions. They are subjected to force-feedings in which tubes are sent through the nose to the stomach.
(The Miami Herald has a great graphic about the Gitmo hunger strike, listing daily details. For example, 31 men were tube fed on September 5.)
Here in the continental U.S., prisoners at the Pelican Bay prison in California began a hunger strike to protest the prolonged use of solitary confinement. They, too, are facing tube feedings.
“Force-feeding is torture,” says Conteris in a press release. Conteris, 52, has lost fifty pounds since starting his hunger strike on July 8, when Pelican Bay inmates started theirs. I’ve been colleagues with Conteris for years and when I bumped into him in Madison a few weeks ago, I didn’t recognize him. He had grown so thin.
“I wish to make visible what the U.S. government is perpetrating against prisoners in Guantánamo and what the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is threatening for hunger strikers in Pelican Bay,” says Conteris. “The only way to end the hunger strikes and force-feeding is to shutter the Gitmo prison and respond favorably to the demands of the prisoners in California.”
The United Nations, the American Medical Association, and Senators John McCain and Dianne Feinstein have all condemned force-feeding.
Today’s action is the first that the CloseGitmo.net organization has done in a month, says Palina Prasasouk, one of the event organizers. “Guantánamo has been out of the headlines,” she told me. “It’s going to be sidelined again by Obama Administration.”
“It’s been six months since the hunger strike began and only two released?” Prasasouk said, referring to the August relocation of two inmates from Gitmo. “It’s unacceptable.”
The force-feeding will happen at noon in front of the White House. Live feed available at CloseGitmo.net.
If you liked this story by Elizabeth DiNovella, the Culture Editor of The Progressive magazine, check out her story "Syria’s First Lady Rocking Fall Fashions While Damascus Burns."
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