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Guantanamo Prisoners Have Been on Hunger Strike for Three Weeks, Lawyers Announce

Most men in 'Camp 6' taking part in strike to protest latest cruelties in prison

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay’s Camp 6 have been on hunger strike for roughly three weeks in protest of their treatment by guards and military officials there, the prisoners' lawyers announced Monday.

Detainee looks through fencing inside Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, June 26, 2006 (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) The prisoners' lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights and habeas counsel sent a letter to military officials at Guantanamo requesting they take immediate action to improve the situation.

CCR released the following statement Monday:

After more than 11 years of indefinite detention and abuse, humiliation and reprisals, the military appears to be arbitrarily cracking down on the men detained at Guantanamo, going so far as to search their Qur’ans and confiscate family photos. In response, the men have felt that their only option to protest peacefully was to go on hunger strike, which has continued for more than three weeks and is now endangering their lives and health. Its failure to close Guantanamo aside, this administration should be far beyond such cruelties, particularly given how many of the men still trapped there have been unanimously cleared for transfer.

The letter notes:

Since approximately February 6, 2013, camp authorities have been confiscating detainees’ personal items, including blankets, sheets, towels, mats, razors, toothbrushes, books, family photos, religious CDs, and letters, including legal mail; and restricting their exercise, seemingly without provocation or cause. [...]

Arabic interpreters employed by the prison have been searching the men’s Qur’ans in ways that constitute desecration according to their religious beliefs, and that guards have been disrespectful during prayer times. [...]

These actions, and the fact that they have affected so many men, indicate a significant departure from the way in which the rules have been formulated and implemented over the past few years. [...]

As a result of these practices, we understand that the men are suffering greatly and that a large number have gone on a hunger strike, which is now in its third week. As their health has deteriorated, we have received reports of men coughing up blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued, and being moved to Camp V for observation. Detainees have also expressed feeling increased stress, fear, and despair. It is clear that their health will only worsen unless and until the hunger strike ends, which requires taking immediate steps to address the reasons for their protest…

Read the full letter here.

Kevin Gosztola at FireDogLake adds:

Detainees first began to engage in hunger strikes in 2002. The hunger strikes had a definite impact. The strikes from 2002 to 2005 effectively changed the dynamics in the prison. Former detainee Binyam Mohamed said there was no law and a colonel was saying, “’I do what I like’ but after the hunger strike – the big hunger strike of 2005 – they actually started implementing some kind of law that we knew about.” But, come 2006, the prison began to force feed detainees that were striking and force tubes down detainees’ throats in a manner that successfully convinced many of the detainees to end their resistance.

In March 2011, Jason Leopold of Truthout reported detainees continued to participate in hunger strikes with the hope that the conditions of their detention would improve or so they would no longer have their basic due process rights violated.

The tenth anniversary of the opening of the prison in January 2012 reportedly saw prisoners mark the anniversary by engaging in three days of protest that included hunger striking. [...]

When considering the fact that 166 prisoners remain in confinement and 86 of them have been cleared for release by a review task force authorized by President Barack Obama, it would seem fulfilling these two demands would be the least the military or government could do. [...]

When considering the fact that 166 prisoners remain in confinement and 86 of them have been cleared for release by a review task force authorized by President Barack Obama, it would seem fulfilling these two demands would be the least the military or government could do.

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