It is undoubtedly true that there are some barbaric extremists who pervert the meaning of Islam - many of whom may now be associated with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. All the more reason, then, for us to identify our friends in the Islamic world, and treat them well. Why, then, did the British authorities treat my friend Nebeel Rajab, his wife, his 16-year-old son, and his 12-year-old daughter so badly?
Kris Maharaj has been in prison for 27 years. Setting his innocence aside for a moment, he is no better off now than when he joined Thomas Knight on Florida's death row. He was 75 years old in January. Recently, the Florida Parole Commission sent him a letter scheduling his "initial parole interview": it will be held, they say, in April 2042. By then, Kris will be 103 years old. Perhaps more accurately, he will be dead.
It's 14 February. In Britain it will be Valentine's Day. In 2002, it was the day I arrived in Guantánamo Bay, and the day my youngest child was born - Faris, whom I have never been allowed to touch... I have no doubt justice will prevail and the light of the truth will shine all over the world. What is happening to us and others is a small price for justice, peace, and happiness which will cover the whole world soon. Always, after total darkness, the sun rises again. I hope to see the sun of justice, peace, and happiness with my own eyes. It will be a great day. If I don't get to see that sun, please remember that I have endured all this in the name of Justice.
I sent Shaker Aamer the sermon Reverend Nicholas Mercer delivered in October which denounces the UK's involvement in the tortuous and horrifying tactics used in the 'war on terror' and its continued denial of justice to those still subjected to those same practices. Shaker, clearly touched, wrote back almost immediately.
So for me, the strike is over: not for any particularly good reason, just because it has gone on a week, and it is time to pass the baton over to Frankie Boyle. I was not sure when I began how long I would go for, since I had never foregone food for 48 hours before. I am satisfied with a week - it is longer than I expected to last, though less time than I could have.
It's hardly the same, but three days ago, my wife announced that ketosis had begun with me. Two evenings ago, she took away my car keys. Last night, I was short of breath when it came to blowing up balloons (so too, it seemed, was my mother, but then she is 86). Finally, the force feeders came for me.
The combination of lack of sleep with lack of food does seem to be the worst part of going on hunger strike... The notion of being coerced into feeding does make me think of the procedures described by Shaker Aamer in my call with him two days ago. Things in Guantánamo have gone from worse to terrible.
The more I do this, the more I set my own petty experience is contrast to Guantánamo. I supposed I had a good sense all along about the suffering that Shaker and the other 165 prisoners were going through, because I have been there so many times (28 to date) and witnessed what is happening first hand. But it is a message we need to get to the world, and every word that people read is a small step in the right direction.
Day three of my hunger strike did not start off well. I was awake by 4am, and gave up trying to rest half an hour later, my mind swirling with work to be done. At least I was productive in the early hours. Meanwhile, though, I have been pondering anew, rather tiredly, how trivial my concerns truly are...
This weekend I plan to spend traveling to Waziristan, the Pakistan province on the border with Afghanistan, where the CIA is currently waging its not-so-secret and entirely undeclared drone war. On Thursday, I was at the best-attended press conference I have ever witnessed - I counted television cameras from more than forty stations, including the United States and various European countries.
I have known for years, of course, that eleven of the men I currently represent have long been cleared for release. But the list of detainees cleared in 2009 by the Obama Administration after an "exhaustive" review was "protected" information that I was not permitted to disclose. How was the security of the United States threatened by this information?
Guantánamo is, increasingly, torture for all those concerned. The soldiers have long since forsaken the notion that by holding prisoners without trial they are preserving the rule of law; the prisoners have lost all hope, ten years into their endless detention; and, as the Gitmo Diet takes hold, even the lawyers are finding their visits unpalatable.