Andy Worthington Discusses the Guantánamo Hunger Strike, and America’s Chronic Injustice, on the Michael Slate Show
The world is, I hope, waking up to the truth that something terrible is happening at Guantánamo — a prison-wide hunger strike, involving as many as 130 of the remaining 166 prisoners, which began nearly two months ago, but was denied by the US authorities until just two weeks ago, although the numbers conceded by the military fail to match those cited by the prisoners themselves, via their lawyers.
From the five or six long-term hunger strikers initially acknowledged, the numbers went up to 14, and have been steadily increasing so that, today, the Pentagon claimed that "39 men are consistently refusing food," as theWashington Post reported, also noting, "Of those, 11 are being force fed." The men are on a hunger strike because of complaints about their treatment under the current command at the prison, but also — and primarily, I believe — because of their understanding that they have been completely abandoned by President Obama, even though he promised to close the prison (within a year) when he took office in 2009, and even though 86 of the remaining prisoners were cleared for release from the prison by an inter-agency task force that the President established in 2009.
On Friday, I spoke to Michael Slate, the veteran radio host whose informative and hard-hitting show is on KPFK 90.7 FM, in Los Angeles. The show isavailable here, as an MP3, and my interview begins at just after 23 minutes and lasts for 17 minutes. It follows another important interview, with Annette Dickerson, the Director of Education and Outreach at the Center for Constitutional Rights, discussing a disgraceful milestone: the 5,000,000th person to be subjected to the New York Police Department’s "stop and frisk" policy.
After running through the story of the hunger strike with Michael, I was pleased to have the opportunity to explain how the focus for what I hope will be a state of increasing awareness and discomfort in America at what is happening at Guantánamo needs to be on President Obama and on Congress — on the President because, as well as lacking political courage, he imposed a disgracefully unfair ban on releasing any of the cleared Yemenis, who make up two-thirds of the prisoners cleared for release, in the wake of a failed bomb plot in 2009 that was masterminded in Yemen — and on Congress because lawmakers have also imposed unjustifiable restrictions on the release of prisoners.
I do hope you have time to listen to the show, as it was, I believe, a powerful and informative interview. I’ll be writing more about the hunger strike tomorrow, but for now, if you want to know more, please see my recent articles, "Voices from the Hunger Strike in Guantánamo" and "Prison-Wide Hunger Strike Still Rages at Guantánamo."
Andy Worthington is 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. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see mydefinitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, "The Complete Guantánamo Files," a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo" (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see mydefinitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new "Close Guantánamo campaign", and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.