Conflict & Justice

Guantanamo Bay hunger strike cases nearly double


A soldier next to a sign at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


Jim Watson

Hunger strike cases have nearly doubled at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba amid growing frustration with the US government.

Twenty-five inmates are now refusing food, although eight of them had lost enough weight that doctors were force-feeding them through tubes in their noses, Reuters reported today.

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Two have been hospitalized for dehydration.

Prisoners are reportedly frustrated that the detention facility is still open.

"They had great optimism that Guantanamo would be closed. They were devastated apparently ... when the president backed off, at least (that's) their perception, of closing the facility," Marine Corps General John Kelly told the House Armed Services Committee in Washington.

Upon taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama ordered Guantanamo closed within a year, but Congress has blocked efforts to shut it down, according to Al-Jazeera.

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In January, the State Department office charged with resettling Guantanamo prisoners was closed.

More than 50 lawyers representing the prisoners have written to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him to help end the hunger strike, The New York Times reported.

Obama inherited about 240 detainees from the Bush administration in 2009.

There are currently 166 inmates at the facility. Nearly all have been held for 11 years without charges, and half have been cleared for transfer or release, according to Reuters.