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More Prisoners Join Hunger Strike At Guantanamo

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
April 17, 2013

The U.S. military says the number of prisoners on hunger strike at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has risen to 52 — up from 45 a day earlier. The news comes just days after guards raided a section of the facility to move prisoners to single cells from their communal holding area because the detainees had covered security cameras and engaged in other actions.

The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg had this tweet:

Rosenberg’s story in the newspaper highlights the events that led to Saturday’s clash between guards and prisoners at Guantanamo. She quotes military commanders saying that prisoners covered cameras, poked guards with sticks through fences, sprayed U.S. forces with urine and refused to lock themselves inside their cells for nightly sweeps.

She writes:

“U.S. forces offered descriptions of defiant prisoners to explain why, as of Tuesday morning, the vast majority of the 166 captives spread across seven facilities, were under lockdown. None were living in groups, POW-style. Visiting reporters could see them through surveillance cameras pacing restlessly inside single cement-block cells equipped with steel bunks welded to the walls, a toilet, sink and small writing table.

“Gone was satellite TV and being able to roam inside their blocks for meals, prayers or go outside for group soccer. In place of access to books and hand-held games, movies, their legal documents and a pantry, each man had the barest of items — a blanket and sheet, thin mat to use for prayer and as a mattress, prayer beads, prayer cap and three books.

“Several dozen captives inside Camp 6 had no Qurans, Capt. John said. Once locked inside cells Saturday, they refused to receive them through the slots in their doors. Some had also refused delivery of meals in Styrofoam containers, continuing their hunger strike.”

The news of the expanded hunger strike follows an op-ed piece published in The New York Times on Sunday by Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a Yemeni detainee at the camp who has been on hunger strike since Feb. 10. In the piece headlined “Gitmo Is Killing Me,” Moqbel says: “The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood.

“And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment. Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made.”

The U.S. holds 166 men at the camp.

The strike also comes a day after a nonpartisan task force that reviewed interrogation practices adopted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, concluded that “there is little doubt that some U.S. personnel committed brutal acts against captives.” The report by the Constitution Center urged the Obama administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo by the end of 2014. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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