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22 Jan, 2010 06:42

Hunger strikes grip US capital over Gitmo closure

Over forty people protesting against US President Barack Obama's broken promise to close Guantanamo Bay have been arrested around the US Capitol. The protesters have gone on hunger strike in Washington DC.

Clad in iconic orange jumpsuits, some demonstrators have already gone nearly half a month without eating, regardless of the danger it poses. All because, they say, the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was supposed to be closed by January 22.

“That is broken promises, that is broken laws, that is broken lives,” said one of the protesters Frida Berrigan, a member of “Witness Against Torture”.

“We are talking about beatings. We are talking about waterboarding. We are talking about isolation. People held in isolation for long periods of time,” she added.

A march for the group is to continue the protest, to remember suspected terrorists who may have been tortured to death.

Fellow protestor Art Laffin, 55, says that fasting is a very small act to make as the situation is indeed very serious.

He told AP that it is important detainees in Guantanamo and the US prison in Bagram, Afghanistan “know they are not forgotten and there are people in this country who deeply, deeply care about their plight.”

People who starve themselves intentionally for a significant period of time go into a biological state of “catabolysis”, whereby the body begins to break down its own muscles to keep the organs functioning. The form of protest is common amongst so-called political prisoners.