Friday, March 10, 2006

Fasting in Solidarity

As I was tossing and turning last night in bed, I got to thinking about all the innocent people the United States has in its custody in secret and not-so-secret prisons across the globe. Men and some women who are enduring torture and mocking at the hands of their captors. It brought me close to throwing up just thinking about it; the feeling of powerlessness and anger at a system that I live under. It is a mere drop, though, to the bucketloads of emotion some of these victims of kidnapping (as DuctapeFatwa likes to remind me) must be feeling as they await their fate.

Many of them have chosen to fast as the penultimate symbol of their desperation. Unfortunately, not even that powerful act of solidarity and non-violence is being respected by the U.S. military.
More than 250 doctors from seven countries urged the U.S. government on Friday to abandon force-feeding and the use of restraints on hunger strikers at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The doctors from Britain, the United States, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Italy and the Netherlands said prisoners at the camp in eastern Cuba have the right to refuse treatment and that physicians must respect their decision.

"“We urge the U.S. government to ensure that detainees are assessed by independent physicians and that techniques such as force-feeding and restraint chairs are abandoned," the doctors said in an open letter published in The Lancet medical journal.

They added that the World Medical Association, a global body representing physicians, specifically prohibits force-feeding in two declarations dating back to 1975. The American Medical Association is a co-signatory of the declarations.

Every day, when I read the headlines outlining the latest atrocities, I feel less and less like an American. (what does that mean, anyway?) The monsters in power have defiled and perverted my country enough that I no longer recognize it as my own. I feel more solidarity with the world community than I do with the United States. There is such a division that the false choice of citizenship has been laid at my feet. Am I citizen of America or the World?

I wonder if the dissenting Germans felt the same way when Hitler was rising to power? Will the U.S. fascism have to be knocked out from the outside rather than from within?

All of these questions simmer below the surface of my thoughts as I drive to work, or sit at home with a book, or look out from my porch at the setting sun. What is it going to take to turn the tide?

I am honored to offer my fasting during Lent in solidarity with my sister- and brother-peace activists of the Tucson Chapter of CODEPINK and the human rights advocates of No More Deaths. It's clear that something has to give, but in the meantime, I am preparing myself in the best way I know how: by abstaining from food and offering my hunger in solidarity with those that suffer from injustice. I am proud to follow in the tradition of Cesar Chavez, Mahatma Gandhi and other peace activists of the past.


No comments: