Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strike
This summer, at least 100 detainees took part in a hunger strike at Guantanamo bay. Most of the prisoners there are already cleared for release. By the Obama administration’s own accounting, as of May 2013 86 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo are eligible for release or transfer to other countries’ custody. But because the administration hasn’t been willing or able to find places to send them, no detainee has been released in more than a year (as of May 2013). [Source]
Using testimony from five detainees, this animated film by the Guardian reveals the daily brutality of life inside Guantánamo.
"I have been detained at Guantanamo for 11 years and 6 months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. I have a wife and kids and I have been cleared with release for more than 5 years."
"I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is. As it was thrust in it made me feel like throwing up. There was agony in my chest, throat, stomach. They put you on a chair, it reminds me of an execution chair. Your legs and shoulders are tied with belts. If the tube goes in the wrong way the liquid might get into your lungs."
"They began feeding me by nasal catheter. The food rushed into my stomach too quickly. I asked them to reduce the speed. They not only refused, but tried to turn it up. After he finished his work he roughly pulled the tube from my nose."
"84 of us have been cleared for release, and we’re still here. Let us leave Guantanamo with clear hearts and without hatred. Hatred is evil, and it harms the person who is hating as well as the person who is hated."
"I am being detained here indefinitely with no charge. The only solution is to let me go because I did nothing wrong. I am now 46. I want to see my family again. All I want is to be free."
"I don’t want to die in Guantanamo."
As of December 18th 2013:
This month, Congress lifted many restrictions on overseas transfers, which will allow the administration to more quickly winnow the population of detainees who have already been cleared for release — about half of those still in detention. In recent weeks, it has repatriated four detainees.
“We’re trying to move forward as expeditiously as possible,” said Ian Moss, adviser to the State Department’s special envoy for closing Guantanamo.
Over the weekend, the U.S. sent back two Saudi nationals. It has also repatriated four men to Algeria, two of them this month. Fearing persecution in their home country, the Algerians had fought not to return, but were sent back anyway. Their cases highlight the challenges inherent in trying to shut down a detention facility that the White House said recently “harms our standing in the world.”
The transfers “show progress, but it’s a short-term gain,” said Wells Dixon, an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents Djamel Ameziane, one of the Algerians returned this month. “The bottom line is that the well being of these guys was traded away. It points to the fact that the president doesn’t have a sensible, coherent thought-out plan for how to close the prison.” [source]
Celebrate International Human Rights Day on December 10 by taking part in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon. By taking action on one or more of the cases outlined, you will join hundreds of thousands of others around the world in demanding that the rights of these individuals are respected, protected and fulfilled. Stand in solidarity with those suffering human rights abuses, and help us change lives.
Prisoner of Conscience Eskinder Nega is serving an 18 year sentence for his legitimate work as a journalist. He was charged with terrorism-related offenses in 2011 after giving speeches and writing articles critical of the government and supporting free speech. Amnesty International calls for Eskinder’s immediate and unconditional release.
Ethiopian authorities routinely use criminal charges and accusations of terrorism to silence dissenting voices. Repression of freedom of expression in Ethiopia has increased alarmingly in recent years. Eskinder has often challenged the Ethiopian authorities through his writing. For this he has been harassed, arrested and prosecuted several times. In 2006 and 2007 Eskinder and his wife Serkalem Fasil and 129 other journalists, opposition politicians and activists were tried in connection with protests following the 2005 election. Serkalem gave birth to their son Nafkot while in prison.
Ethiopian journalists are working in an environment of intensifying repression. In recent years, legislation has passed criminalizing freedom of expression as a terrorist act,punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Call on the authorities to free Eskinder and stop silencing journalists!
How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.
If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
“You look so healthy!” is a great one.
Or how about, “you’re looking so strong.”
“I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.”
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.
NOTES FROM THE FIELD - 22 November 2013 - Tacloban, Philippines
A real hero and inspiration
By Kent Page - Senior Communications Advisor - UNICEF
A day of inspiration in the face of the most difficult of challenges.
Over the past few days our UNICEF child protection colleagues have been tracking down some unaccompanied children. Working with the government and partners, the 5 children have been found, referred and are now receiving much needed support.
Theirs is an inspiring story stemming from tragedy. The five children are brothers and sisters … the oldest is an 18-year old boy and the youngest is an 8-year old boy. They are sheltering at an evacuation center that prior to the typhoon was a school. It is now overrun by hundreds of families made homeless by the typhoon.
The five children are staying there, and they stay close. They need to. Both their mother and father perished in the typhoon, along with three of their siblings. The oldest boy has had to take on the responsibility of gathering his surviving siblings, getting them to the evacuation centre and making sure they are safe.
He has not had a second to grieve, to process the amount of loss he and his siblings have experienced or to even sit back and rest for just a few moments. His younger brothers and sister are looking to him for support. And he’s a true hero … Because he’s giving them all the support he can although he is completely exhausted.
When we met them they were in a small classroom that is their temporary home at the school. They sleep on a piece of plywood on the floor, the windows are gone from the typhoon wind … At night it is cold and the mosquitoes come.
There is some mercy as they are sharing the room with their cousin and his family … They have also lost everything but are willing to take the five kids as extended family, but they too have suffered massive setbacks.
The younger sister looks up to her brother and told me what he has been doing for them. Standing in long lines in the rain to get relief goods. Watching over them so they are safe at night. Getting them into the classroom in the first place where at least they have some shelter. Working during the day in the dangerous job of cleaning debris and wreckage from the street. Keeping the small amount of money he makes to buy them food.
When we met him, he was busy preparing food for all five of them … boiling water over a small wooden fire in the classroom and making instant noodles with some rice.
He is a like-able young man, but you can see the grim determination in his face as he takes on all the tasks required to take care of his brothers and sisters. He is a hero and an inspiration and they are now all getting support through unicef and others. It will help, but it can’t replace the loss of both their parents and their 11 and 5 year old sisters and their littlest 3 year old brother.
He tells me that the water “was as high as the coconut trees”, pointing up in the air. That he grabbed hold of one of his younger brothers with one hand and held on the top of a bamboo tree branch with the other at the height of the storm. His sister clung, alone, to the top branches of a jackfruit tree as the water surged more than 100 meters from where their house used to stand.
Neither of them have any idea how the other two younger boys survived the storm, only that they found them sitting in the sand in front of where their home used to be. The only - only - thing that remained is a toilet bowl fixed firmly into a block of concrete. No books, no photos, no plates, no furniture. Nothing.
I’d love to have a happy ending for these kids, but the best I can manage is a hopeful ending. UNICEF has opened a child friendly space at the school where they are staying and the three youngest now have a safe, clean place to play, sing, learn and be with other children. They are registered with the government and other organizations.
And their cousin’s family says they will take them in.
The only surviving sister is 17 and is sad because high school is severely damaged and shut down and she had hoped to graduate this year. She says she is determined to go back to school and graduate. And the young man who has had huge responsibility thrust upon him is doing his very best, every waking moment. He’s a real hero and inspiration.
Hope you will think about them after the media have packed up and moved on as they are already starting to do. And if you’ve sent a donation to UNICEF, thank you and please consider it an investment in this young family that is facing so much and the millions of other children affected by super typhoon Haiyan.
Previous Notes from the Field:
Photo caption: A child displaced by Super Typhoon Haiyan shelters in an evacuation centre, in Tacloban City.
Photo credit: © UNICEF/Jeoffrey Maitem
Right now in Slovakia Romani children are being placed in segregated schools and classes. They’re being put there solely because they are Roma. These schools and classes often offer inferior education, which means these children are being denied a real chance in life. Instead of school being a place of learning and development they are in schools that set them up for a future of humiliation and stigma based on their ethnicity.
The discrimination and segregation of children in schools is wrong. It is also prohibited under international human rights law and European Union law. The good news is that legislation exists in Slovakia to stop this from happening, but unfortunately the government is failing to enforce it despite promises. Join us in calling on the Prime Minister of Slovakia to enforce the law and ensure the prohibition of discrimination and segregation of Roma children is more than empty words on paper.
A public service announcement calling for all Afghans to join in the effort to eradicate polio.
One of just three countries where wild poliovirus remains endemic, Afghanistan has taken a major step towards eradication, thanks in part to the efforts of the health volunteers who go door to door every day to ensure every child is vaccinated.
"While abolishing the RTL system is a big step in the right direction, the reality is that the authorities are finding new ways to punish the same types of people, including sending them to other types of arbitrary detention, such as the so-called ‘brain washing centres’ and ‘black jails’."
How to help the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Yolanda / Haiyan:
As always, perform due diligence with ANY and ALL charity groups and/or non-profits soliciting donations for victims of natural disasters. Give help, but don’t give blindly. Remember: in most (if not all) cases, financial donations will make the most impact. Also, here is Google’s Person Finder to help families separated by the storm locate one another. Tumblr: please reblog and share this and keep the people of the central Philippines in your thoughts and prayers.
- Philippine Red Cross
- American Red Cross (with instructions on how you can make financial donations to the Philippine relief effort through Red Cross offices in the U.S.)
- Australian Red Cross
- Embassy of the Phillipines (Washington, D.C)
- Sagip Kapamilya Telethon (via ABS-CBN TV network)
- World Food Programme
- Catholic Relief Services
Please help if you can.