Fasting to support Guantanamo Bay hunger strikers

We spoke to Maya Evans during her fast over the weekend in solidarity with Guantanamo Bay hunger-strikers

May 21, 2013 · 5 min read

200x236-mayaMaya can you tell us about your fast?

I’m taking part in a weekend of action in solidarity with the hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay. There are 166 people there at the moment. They have been imprisoned, tortured and have been on hunger strike for 100 days now since 6 February. One of the first things that Obama said when he came into power was that he was going to close down the prison, but today he’s force feeding the very people who are still held there.

Many of the prisoners haven’t even received a trial. The courts that do exist within the military institutions of Guantanamo Bay are considered a sham, so if they do get a trial it wouldn’t be a fair one. What’s happening to individuals in this prison is one of the biggest infringements on civil liberties and human rights existing on the planet today.

Who are the people held in Guantanamo Bay?

There has been a child as young as 12 years old imprisoned and the eldest person is aged 89 and has dementia, so it’s not as if you can legitimise this place by saying that it’s locking up dangerous insurgents and members of the Taliban or Al-Qaeda.

I’m involved in a peace campaign for Afghanistan and a lot of the guys in the prison are Afghans. In the early 2000’s the Americans offered bounties for people in Afghanistan to report on insurgents, so a lot of people who were reported on weren’t actually insurgents, just because others were just up for gaining the bounty. A lot of those who were falsely accused ended up being shipped around the world illegally and then ultimately ended up in Guantanamo Bay. It’s a completely crazy way of trying to bring about justice and of trying to capture people who are terrorists or insurgents.

Did you expect Obama to have shut it down by now?

It is disappointing that he hasn’t keep his promise but I’m not surprised because Obama was never really saying that he was going to be a peace president, he didn’t make pledges to withdraw from Afghanistan. He has been making strong noises around Palestine but in reality nothing has actually been improved and in fact, when Obama came in there was an increase in troops placed in Afghanistan from America and he’s really been a driving force behind the increasing use of American drones in Afghanistan. So it is very disappointing but not very surprising.

How do you feel at the end of your first day of fasting?

I feel okay. There are lots of people around me eating and that’s quite tricky, but then I think about the guys in Guantanamo who have been fasting for 100 days and they’ve been in prison for over 10 years.  I just feel that the least I can do is to spend a weekend fasting because it’s really nothing compared to what they’ve gone through.

How did you get involved in campaigning for peace?

I was very worried about the outcomes of 9.11 because our political leaders at the time, George Bush and Tony Blair were just seeking to get revenge and were talking about going into Afghanistan and catching the bad guys, it sounded like crazy rhetoric and indeed it was. So I started going along to my anti-war group up in Liverpool, then in the run up to the Iraq war I started going on national demonstrations in London. Bit by bit I became more and more involved in the peace movement to the point that now I go out to Afghanistan leading British peace delegations. It was a slow progression, it’s not like I just woke up and decided to get on a plane or fast.

How can people support the cause?

On the London Guantanamo website you’ll see a petition and a list of ways you can get involved including writing to political leaders. You can support Shaker Aamer, the last British citizen to be held there and one of 86 inmates who have been cleared for release but are still being held inside the facility. You can also fast in your community wherever you are in solidarity. I believe that the Guantanamo hunger strikers are going to continue until they have been released or until they die. It’s so drastic to reach that point in your life, where you’re either going to starve to death or win your freedom, so we really need to rally around them in support.

Maya Evans is a campaigner of the group Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK focusing on the on-going conflict in Afghanistan

A Twitter campaign to mark 100 days of a hunger strike by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has been trending with #opGTMO

 


What do we do now? Join us on Monday 16 December at Rich Mix

What do we do now?

After knocking on so many doors, the movement built in support of Jeremy Corbyn needs to stay present particularly where people feel abandoned or under attack

Election 2019: The latest attack on travelling communities

The Conservative manifesto includes yet another attack on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. We can resist at the polls - and by responding to the public consultation, says Beth Holmes

We stand with Jeremy Corbyn

Letter: We stand with Jeremy Corbyn – just as he always stood with us

Organisations and individuals including Kehinde Andrews, Hanif Kureishi, Ahdaf Soueif, Gillian Slovo, Robert Del Naja and Anish Kapoor urge BAME and migrant communities to vote for Labour


Election 2019: Tackling tech giant tax avoidance

Conrad Bower reports on the main parties’ manifesto promises to address ‘aggressive’ tax avoidance by multinationals like the ‘Silicon Valley Six’

Election 2019: Battle lines drawn in Sheffield Hallam

Sam Gregory of Now Then magazine reports on the candidates vying for votes in a key Lib Dem-Labour marginal

Jo Swinson at the BBC leaders debate

Election 2019: Anti-semitism and phoney solidarity

The faux-concerns from the party’s opponents does little for Jewish people, argues Oscar Leyens


Football’s Race Stain

Racism marred the Manchester derby this weekend. This blemish on the game is an echo of our Prime Minister’s words, says Remi Joseph-Salisbury.

Another World is Possible

Election 2019: The end of neoliberalism in sight?

If elected, the next Labour government can finally depart from the neoliberal consensus and deliver a major shift in wealth and power, argues Adam Peggs

Small change

Simon Hedges shares his famous-on-Twitter analysis of the state of the left today


Election 2019: Transatlantic socialism rising

As Sanders and Corbyn head to the polls, Peter Gowan describes a new spirit of international collaboration on the left

Jeremy Corbyn and front bench holding copies of the 2019 manifesto

Election 2019: An ambitious, agenda-setting and credible manifesto

The 2017 Labour election manifesto was good but the 2019 version is the document we’ve really been waiting for, argues Mike Phipps

Brian Eno: Why I’m backing Labour in Kensington

In 2017, Labour won Kensington by just 20 votes. Brian Eno explains why he's backing Emma Dent Coad in the seat - and why voting Lib Dem is ‘voting Tory without admitting it’


Cartoonist from 1888 depicting John Bull (England) as the octopus of imperialism, grabbing land on every continent. Public Domain.

Election 2019: Education and Empire

Following Labour’s manifesto pledge to educate the public on the histories of empire, slavery, and migration, Kimberly McIntosh explains the dangers of colonial nostalgia in the national curriculum

Support our election writer’s fund

The stakes could not be higher during this election. Help us cover what's really happening