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A Hunger for Justice

(Posted May 10, 2013)

Students held a Guantanamo Bay protest by dressing up in orange jumpsuits, chaining themselves, and covering their faces.

Four years after President Obama promised to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the detainees have not yet been freed or even given trials. Many of the prisoners are on a hunger strike in protest of their mistreatment. A few Juniata students created signs protesting Guantanamo and encouraged students to sign addressed letters to both President Obama and their local senators. Some students expressed their reasons behind their involvement in the protest or opposition to it.

Eli Murphy '15 Poland, Maine:

We first started talking about Guantanamo in a couple different classes. It's something I feel strongly about because it's a breach of the Constitution and human rights. So if there's anything I can do to stop it, I want to help. We're trying to get people to sign letters to both President Barack Obama and their hometown senators to provide facts and plead with them to take action toward closing Guantanamo.

Marissa Pedro '13 Broomall, Pa.:

I came to hold signs and encourage people to sign letters. I also signed a letter. I think that defacing the human rights of anyone no matter what you think they've done or what they know is very wrong and I don't think we should be prideful of it either. It's very upsetting. I think the hunger strike is an interesting approach. It's relatively peaceful, but I don't know if it's good or bad. I guess given the circumstances, it's appropriate.

Hilary Smith '13 Blacksburg, Va.:

My interest in the subject started when I was at a protest and I heard about how difficult it is for attorneys to defend their clients in Guantanamo. It was obvious that the inmates weren't treated in the same ways that criminals in the U.S. are, and that the legal system wasn't working the same way as it does in the U.S. Then I read a New York Times editorial on the hunger strikes in Guantanamo Bay and how the detainees were being force-fed, which is a form of torture. One man said it was like having a razor scratch your insides. The prisoners are overfed and overhydrated, but they are strapped into chairs for hours and forced to defecate and relieve themselves in their clothes. This is our government and we're supporting this treatment of humans. We're being hypocritical because we're supposedly detaining people who are terrorists, but we're taking away their human rights and torturing them. They're not even given the right to die.

Adam Weaver '15 Duncansville, Pa.:

I don't disagree that torture is wrong, but with people that I feel are guilty of terroristic threats or terrorism, sometimes it's necessary if they have information that is useful to national security. For instance, if you have a person that's loyal to Al Qaeda, how else do you get information that could save American lives if they're not willingly going to give it? I don't think it's a question of whether torture is right or wrong, but if it's necessary. I think unfortunately in our world, sometimes it is. I don't think everyone in Guantanamo is a terrorist. There are some people who are innocent and some people who are not.

--Hannah Jeffery '16 Juniata Online Journalist

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.