West Browmwich MP Tom Watson is going on a day’s hunger strike to raise the plight of Guantanamo Bay detainees being ‘slowly starved to death’.
The Labour deputy leader has announced that he will drink only water as a show solidarity with two detainees Ahmed Rabbani and Khalid Qasim.
Rabbani has been held at the controversial prison camp, on a US naval base on Cuba, since 2004 and Qasim since 2002 as part of the US war on terror campaign. But neither have been charged or faced trial in that time and insist they are innocent.
Birmingham campaigner Mozzam Begg was held alongside them until his release in 2005 following protests from the UK Government.
The pair have previously used hunger strikes as a means of protest - but Guantanamo’s doctors have intervened and force fed them.
But according the human rights organisation Reprieve a recent change in the regulations implemented by Donald Trump’s administration means they are now being left to starve and doctors have stopped monitoring their health - a move described by Mr Watson as ‘criminal neglect’.
The pair have now be on hunger strike for 26 days.
Writing in the Guardian website Mr Watson said: “They have been on long-term hunger strike in protest at their indefinite detention in the notorious prison camp without charge or fair trial. Neither man wants to die, but after over a decade of torture, injustice and indifference, they are desperate. The only thing they feel they can do, the only control they have, is to refuse food.”
He added: “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.”
He is now calling on his fellow MPs and the Government to intervene and raise the issue with the US authorities.
He said: “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.”
He is the latest high profile figure to speak out over the issue following actors David Morrissey and Mark Rylance, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Water and comedian Sarah Pascoe.