Pittsburgh Friends Meeting supports AFSC

American Friends Service Committee PA Updates July 2013
by Scilla Wahrhaftig, AFSC PA Program Director
Dear Friends:
I find myself torn apart by the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo who have been on a hunger strike since February. As many as 100 of the 106 prisoners are taking part in the strike and at least 45 are being force fed. I was sent this video which shows Yasiin Bey, a Hip Hop artist, who agreed to be force fed to show what it was like. This was videotaped by the Guardian and you can see it at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/jul/08/mos‐defforce‐fed‐guantanamo‐bay‐video. It is not an easy video to watch especially when you know that many of the prisoners are experiencing this twice a day.
During this time of Ramadan the prisoners have asked that they not be fed during daylight hours. However as each feeding takes 2 hours and they have 45 people to feed in just 10 hours that will probably mean that will not be respected. Four prisoners have filed a lawsuit asking that they not be force fed on the grounds that this is torture. However, it has been turned down.
There are some reports that a few of the prisoners have started eating, but their plight ‐ being held indefinitely in spite of being cleared for release ‐ has not changed.
Meanwhile, prisoners who are being held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay are now also on a hunger strike and are calling on other prisoners around the state to join them. By the second day of the strike over 29,000 inmates in 34 state prisons refused their breakfast and 2,300 inmates refused to go to work or to educational classes. This movement could have a significant impact on raising awareness of how are country is treating prisoners and the torture they are inflicting on inmates both in our prisons and also at Guantanamo. The only way they can get their message out to the world is through hunger strikes.
One of the things that is keeping the prisoners at Guantanamo going with their hunger strike is the many people and organizations who are supporting them on the outside. The same will be true of the Pelican Bay hunger strike. It is knowing that people care and are working to change the system that keeps enables them to survive the daily force feedings and the longer the strike continues the more the public becomes aware of the problem.
A number of Friends wrote letters to prisoners at Guantanamo on our monthly July letter writing day. This is a wonderful way to give support and if you are interested you can go to AFSC PA website http://www.afsc.org/office/pittsburgh‐pa to get more information on writing such letters. At the same time I hope you will all write to the President calling on him to fulfill his promise to transfer some of the prisoners to their home countries and work with Congress to close Guantanamo.
The prisoners at Pelican Bay also need our support and letters can be sent to Governor Brown at Governor Jerry Brown, c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Our testimony on social justice call on us to “Not only to minister to those in need, but also to seek to know the facts of social and economic ills so as to work for the removal of those ills.” I hope Friends will join me in taking what actions we can to not only minister to these prisoners, but also add our support to their cause.

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