100 days of hunger: Anonymous stands up for Gitmo prisoners
Over the last three days Anonymous ‘Operation Guantanamo’ hashtags #OpGITMO and #GTMO have skyrocketed in popularity on Twitter, drawing attention to the 100th day of the inmates' hunger strike, as their protest becomes a question of life and death.
Kicking off Friday, a series of “twitterstorms, email bombs
and fax bombs” were aimed at “raising awareness in social
media” of the situation at Guantanamo, violations of human
rights of “prisoners, many of whom have been cleared for release
The improvised clock struck zero on May 17, meaning that until May 19 supporters of the “Operation” had to be actively posting and “stealing tweets” that Anonymous suggested in a series of lines to be re-tweeted.
The 'Operation Guantanamo' found the support of thousands of Twitter users literally every few seconds, sharing links to media coverage regarding Gitmo, as well as the stories of those still detained, words of support and calls for people to act.
Many Gitmo detainees aren't waiting for justice, they're waiting for release. If we don't act, they'll die waiting to be released. #GTMO19— Delic(@HamdoDelic) May 19, 2013
Many of the OpGitmo participants recalled the story of Shaker Aamer, long-time Guantanamo detainee and veteran hunger striker, who joined the current hunger strike on February 15.
Some tweets were calling on British leaders to push on President Obama to close Guantanamo.
The anti-Guantanamo protest did not just take place online, during its first day the protests were held outside the White House demanding the camp’s closure.
On May 18, the second day of OpGITMO, British activists held a demonstration in London to mark the 100th day of the collective hunger strike.
The campaigners, wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods, staged a murder scene outside the US embassy. Some of the activists, hidden behind Anonymous masks, demonstrated how US forces have force-fed some of the striking captives via tubes through their nose.
They were carrying banners reading, “11 years where’s the justice?” and “Stop the torture” .
A ‘World Can't Wait’ national movement has organized “Orange jumpsuit contingent” events in New York and Hawaii, calling for people to take part.
“We'll be standing in our orange jump suits to demand the
closure of Guantanamo and will be passing out leaflets,” read
the statement on the movement’s website.
The Anonymous website also posted phone numbers for the White House, the United States Southern Command and the Department of Defense, urging supporters to ‘phonebomb’ officials as well as local senators with calls about the camp.
Calls to stop Guantanamo have since been echoed by a multitude of rights organizations, as well as by people within the ranks of the US government and military, some of whom spoke to RT about the issue.
Lieutenant Colonel Barry Wingard, who was initially part of the Guantanamo apparatus, has since turned attorney to the detainees at the camp. He described the harrowing ordeal his client has had to undergo and stressed that President Obama doesn’t need Congress to take action on the much-debated transfers of those cleared for release.
“Under the National Defense Authorization Act, the president has the ability through the Secretary of Defense to sign a waiver to get some of these men out of here," said Wingard.
He also described the harrowing ordeal his client has to undergo every time he is force-fed, saying there is no way this can be a permanent solution, health-wise:
“He reports that his sinuses are infected, that he feels week, that the formula they’re putting in his body makes him gain weight, but it’s a weakening kind of weight, and that he feels sedated. He’s convinced in his mind that they’re adding more to his liquid and he’s asked that they mix it in front of him – which they’ve refused.”
Similarly, Amnesty International has been sounding the alarm,
saying the situation is “at a crisis point”, while the UN
rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, told RT that the camps
practices were simply “cruel, inhuman and degrading.”
Countless detainee testimonies paint a grim picture of the escalating situation at Guantanamo, with fears mounting by the day that the health of those being force-fed could seriously deteriorate.