by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
On Saturday, U.S. military prison guards at Guantanamo fired rubber bullets at prisoners to try and stop their ongoing hunger strike. The prison reaction only exacerbates the situation. Reports indicate that many of the 166 prisoners at Guantanamo have been on a hunger strike since Feb. 6. (Although the U.S. military acknowledges 43 strikers, lawyers say the number is well above 100.) At least 13 are so thin and weak that they are being painfully force-fed. The United Nations Human Rights Commission has declared force-feeding prisoners “a form of torture,” so one could argue the U.S. torture at Guantanamo continues at this very moment.
The grave injustice of Guantanamo must end immediately. President Barack Obama and the U.S. government need to address the issues of the hunger strikers now before a prisoner dies. The death of one of these prisoners will turn millions more around the world against us. Even if U.S. officials do not care for human rights, prisoners’ deaths will be disastrous for the U.S.
But the demands of the hunger strike are perfectly reasonable and legal under international law. They want an immediate end to indefinite detention, torture and poor conditions.…