Guantanamo prison hunger strike grows


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


Jim Watson

A hunger strike among prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has grown to include 28 of the prison's 166 inmates.

As of Monday morning, the prisoners had refused enough continuous meals to officially be deemed part of a hunger strike. Military spokesman Capt. Robert Durand said 10 of the 28 were being force-fed. The number of strikers was up from 26 on Friday, eight of whom were being force-fed. Three inmates have been hospitalized for dehydration and are receiving tube feedings and intravenous drips.

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The prisoners' lawyers have been returning from visits with their clients, saying the hunger strike is even more widespread than the military has been reporting.

According to the Associated Press, Army Capt. Jason Wright said an Afghan prisoner who goes by the name Obaidullah has gone from 167 pounds to 131 since he went on strike last week.

"He seemed depressed, frustrated at the worsening conditions of his confinement," Wright said. "It seemed like he didn't have any hope of getting out of Guantanamo Bay."

Lawyers said the hunger strike was started after a shakedown in early February of cells at Camp 6 that included what the inmates considered ill treatment of their Qurans.

The Miami Herald reported that attorney to the detainees and law professor at City University of New York Ramzi Kassem said a Syrian client told him Friday the shakedown involved guards collecting Qurans from the cellblocks in Camp 6 and finding a Muslim interpreter to search each one, "with guards and officers looking over his shoulder."