A hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay detention camp has grown to 100 inmates, according to the United States military. Of the men who are refusing to eat, 20 have lost enough weight to be force-fed, while five of them are in the hospital.
Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House, a spokesman for the base, announced earlier this week that several Navy doctors, nurses, and psychological technicians were being sent to Guantanamo to help cope with the hunger strike.
The strike began three months ago after prison guards raided inmates’ cells. The inmates alleged that the military mishandled their Korans, a charge the military denies. While the incident sparked the hunger strike at Guantanamo, it was continued by several men as a protest against their indefinite incarceration.
Guantanamo Bay’s prison camp is home to 166 inmates accused of acts of terror. However, only six of the men have been charged by the military. The remaining 160 have no charges against them. The majority of the men have also been living behind bars for about 10 years.
At least 86 of the men have been approved by US national security agencies for transfer from Guantanamo. However, no detainees have been released from the prison camp since 2010.
The hunger strike initially started with a small number of prisoners. However, it more than doubled during a violent raid the military conducted to restore order on the detention center’s most populous and most communal camp. Guards used rubber bullets during the raid, in which they forced the prisoners into single-man cells.
They also moved half of the men there to the more restrictive Camp Five. Military spokesman previously stated that the raid was not meant to break up the hunger strike. Rather, its goal was to remove the obstructions placed on surveillance cameras by detainees.
Of the 100 Guantanamo inmates on the hunger strike, 20 are being strapped to chairs and being force-fed liquid nutrients. House assured that, despite the poor health of some hunger strikers, “The detainees in the hospital do not currently have any life-threatening conditions.”
It is unclear with the United States’ response will be to the hunger strikers at Guantanamo.
[Image via Joshua Brus]