Gitmo Hunger Strike Grows

Pentagon says 25, lawyers say 100

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 20, 2013 2:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – The military says about two dozen detainees at Guantanamo Bay are refusing to eat, up from 14 just a few days ago, reports the Miami Herald. Of those, two have been hospitalized with dehydration and eight are being force-fed through nose tubes, reports the New York Times. Their attorneys and camp authorities say the hunger strike revolves around two issues: claims that guards are searching and desecrating Korans (which Gitmo officials deny) and general frustration that they've been held 11 years without charge in a prison that President Obama promised to close years ago.

The failure to shut down Gitmo in particular "has caused them to become frustrated and they want to get this, I think turn the heat up, get it back in the media," Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly told Congress today, reports Reuters. Attorneys representing about 50 detainees sent a letter to defense chief Chuck Hagel last week, claiming that more than 100 of the camp's 166 detainees were on a hunger strike over illegal confiscations of mail and the handling of Korans. A camp spokesman dismissed the higher count and the related allegations as "outright falsehoods." For the record, the Pentagon considers it a hunger strike when a prisoner skips nine straight meals.

In this 2006 file photo, a detainee shields his face as he peers out through the so-called bean hole used to pass food and other items into detainee cells at Gitmo.
In this 2006 file photo, a detainee shields his face as he peers out through the so-called "bean hole" used to pass food and other items into detainee cells at Gitmo.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
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