Two of my clients in Guantanamo, Ahmed and Khalid, are currently hunger striking. This is their only means of peacefully protesting their continued detention – all they are asking for is a fair trial. The authorities now are withholding medical treatment, which is putting them at serious risk of serious organ damage, mental health problems, and even starving to death. I hope that, with you and me adopting the hunger striking on their behalf, when I get them on a legal call on Wednesday I can convince Ahmed and Khalid to pause their own strike, without damaging their principles.
Day 5 coming to an end. That is 120 hours without any food. Just water, and mainly decaf black tea and coffee, though sometimes it had to have caffeine (not a good idea, as it is a diuretic).
Long day. I had to go up to London, and it will be almost midnight before I get home. I hate the expense of taking taxis, but I’ll have to do it from Dorchester station. Luckily I have encountered two locals and we’re sharing the cost.
Emily would not let me drive myself to the station this morning, which was probably a good thing though she was suffering from a bad cold. I did find myself doing more silly things even than is characteristic. I tried to get out of Waterloo station with my office entrance card, rather than my ticket.
Emily says I make more sense if I am a bit out of it, and actually the interview I had to do on a documentary about Guantanámo seemed to go fairly well. It is really about Yvonne Bradley, the extraordinary woman who I co-counselled in Binyam Mohamed’s case. Yvonne is African-American, a fairly fundamentalist Chirstian, and was then a US Air Force Major and a firm Republican who had done a fair amount of military prosecution in her time. She was also initially rather afraid of the big, bad terrorist Binyam.
I was sceptical when I first met her, but did she prove me wrong! She met Binyam and immediately came to like him, and then became so zealous in his defence that I even had to take the Fifth for her at one stage, when the judge (a Colonel) was about to put her in jail. It was one thing for me to stand up to the Colonel – there was not much he could do to me – but with her, if she did not do as she was told, that was disobeying a direct order, a violation of the military code, which could certainly result in her being cashiered from the Air Force, and theoretically could result in her being shot at dawn. She was an absolute hero of Guantanámo, and an illustration of everything that is good about America and it reflected well on the US that after her vigorous defence of someone deemed an enemy, she got promoted to Lt. Colonel.
I had to do a bit of editing after that of our materials for the injunction in Ahmed’s case, which hopefully will get some results in Washington. I was dubious about my coherence in writing, but at least the team with us in D.C. was hard at work – indeed, they just now emailed me, and it is 10:34pm our time.
Really, I did not feel too bad. My stomach has shrunk just like Shaker Aamer predicted, and if I had to I could go on and on as my body eats itself – I am well and truly on the Hunger Strike Highway. I worry about this, not for myself, but because I think that Ahmed and Khalid must be so far into the zone that they may not understand how far gone their bodies are after 26 days with nothing, and four years before that of gratuitously painful forced feeding.
I am going to have to end my own strike on Day 6, as I have some commitments to the charity – two formal dinners – that I have to go to on Wednesday and Thursday, and my colleagues are justifiably concerned that I can’t just start eating normally (and sipping the odd glass of wine) when the evening arrives.
But lots of people have emailed me about their experiences on the #FastForJustice: thanks, and we need to keep it up. 332 days pledged so far. Reprieve will be posting their experiences on the website too. Shelby is talking to Khalid tomorrow, and I shall have a legal call with Ahmed on Wednesday, and we will be passing along all the good wishes, as well as checking up on them.