Monday, April 15, 2013

Hunger games and martyrdom at Gitmo

"How long, O LORD?" -Ps 13
(Illus. by Matt Rota/NTY)
I want to make the claim here that there is a kind of  martyrdom happening at the US military prison facility at Guant√°namo Bay, Cuba.

First, read this blood-chilling first-hand account of the hunger strikes and the treatment being carried out on the bodies/souls of imprisoned human beings: Hunger Striking at Gitmo...
ONE man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago. I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.
The man offering the account is Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a Yemeni Muslim who has been detained without charge or trail for over ten years. He and others prisoners have been stripped of every last shred of human dignity they have, including their ability to deprive themselves of sustenance to protest their inhuman treatment. So in their attempts at meager protest and the response by their captors - forced feedings - there is a sick "hunger game" playing out.

It is martyrdom because these protestors are bearing witness ("martyr"="witness") to the moral depravity of the entire system that's got them captive, Gitmo and the legal (extra-legal) gyrations that were concocted in order to bring its sick existence into being over 10 years ago.

I have to be careful putting Jewish and Christian scripture in the mouths of mostly Muslim men in my caption above to the powerful illustration by Matt Rota, but I'm intending the juxtaposition to jar the Christian imagination, for those Christians in the U.S. who may not be as morally disgusted as I about what our pagan nation-state is up to at Gitmo.

As a pacifist, I of course think "just war" theory and practice is questionable on many fronts. But even die-hard just war Christians out there, I think, would have a seriously hard/impossible time justifying this insanity. The Christian witness to the state here has to be: This must end.

So with the psalmist and the mostly Mulsim men who have been dehumanized by their captors, acting on behalf of my government, I cry: "How long, O LORD?"

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