Shannonwatch and Galway Alliance Against War (GAAW) are organising a one day solidarity fast at Shannon Airport on Saturday 7th September in support of the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. The fast will run from sunrise (6.45am) to sunset (8pm), and members of the public are invited to join in for some or all of the fast.
A press conference will be held at 12 noon on the day.
Over six months ago prisoners at Guantanamo embarked on a prison-wide hunger strike, as it was the only way left for them to protest about the appalling conditions of indefinite confinement in which they find themselves. Many of the men have been detained in Guantanamo for over 11 years without any contact with their families. They have been bound, beaten and made to suffer extremes of temperature. They have been denied justice, first under President George W. Bush, and now under President Barack Obama.
More than 100 of the prisoners in Guantanamo are now on hunger strike, and many are being brutally force-fed. The United Nations Human Rights Commission considers this practice, in which detainees are strapped to a restraining chair, have tubes pushed up their nostrils and liquids pumped down their throat, a clear form of torture. One detainee said the process felt like a "razor blade [going] down through your nose and into your throat."
As Shannon Airport was one of the stops used by the aircraft that kidnapped and brought these men to Guantanamo, it is particularly appropriate that they should be remembered at the airport. For that reason the fast is being held there as a small symbolic sacrifice to draw attention to their plight and to Shannon's shameful role in putting them there.
Of the 166 men still held at Guantánamo, 86 were cleared to leave in January 2010 by an inter-agency task force established by President Obama. 56 of these men are Yemenis. In a speech on national security on April 23, 2013, President Obama promised to begin releasing these prisoners and lifted a ban on releasing Yemenis that he had imposed in December 2009.
To date he hasn't released any of the prisoners.
And to date successive Irish governments haven't acknowledged or investigated the use of Shannon by aircraft bringing innocent men to Guantanamo. Some of the detainees may even have come through Shannon, bound and hooded in the back of a CIA or US military plane. It is disgraceful that instead of investigating this human rights abuse - and the many other serious human rights abuses and war crimes that Shannon has facilitated - the authorities and the Fine Gael/Labour government continue to deny the evidence linking Shannon to breaches of international and national law.
Shannonwatch and GAAW are asking as many people as possible to join them on September 7th to highlight the injustice and cruelty of Guantanamo. The fast will run from sunrise at 6.45am to sunset at 8.00pm.
Please email email@example.com or phone 087 8225087 if you can take part or if you would like further information about the fast.
On Sunday 8th September the regular monthly vigil will also take place at Shannon from 2pm to 3pm. This is a peaceful protest against the US military use of the airport, and once again members of the public are invited along to support.