Labour’s Tom Watson on hunger strike in solidarity with Guantanamo detainees

Labour MP Tom Watson

The deputy leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, has gone on hunger strike in solidarity with two Guantánamo Bay prisoners who he says are being “slowly starved to death” by President Donald Trump.

Watson declared that nothing but water will pass his lips because detainees Ahmed Rabbani and Khalid Qasim have gone without food for 26 days.

Khalid Qasim, originally from Yemen, has been detained at Guantánamo for over 15 years, while Ahmed Rabbani, a Pakistani citizen, has been detained at for over 12 years.

Watson told The Guardian: “On 20 September, the authorities in Guantánamo stopped feeding Ahmed and Khalid altogether. Worse than just starving them, the medical teams at the American military base have stopped providing them with any treatment or even monitoring their health. That is criminal neglect, pure and simple.”

He called on Prime Minister Theresa May use her influence to “save the lives” of Rabbani and Qasim, and has asked others to join him in his hunger strike.

He added: “We can’t let these two men die in silence. They are among the most powerless in the world and have faced grave injustice at the hands of our close ally.

“We need to take on their plight as our own and raise the alarm, on social media and in the House of Commons.

“After a day of no food, I will be quite hungry. I might even feel a bit weak and find it hard to concentrate. After 26 days of nothing at all, Khalid and Ahmed are almost certainly close to severe organ failure.

“It is a matter of time until irreversible damage is done; we may have already passed the point of no return. Make no mistake, force-feeding is cruel. But this dramatic change in practice is sadistic.

“[Theresa May] should tell President Trump to close down Guantánamo Bay and give the men locked up there what they have been asking for: a fair trial or a release. When America abandons our shared values, we must play the role of the critical friend.”

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