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March 27, 2013

ICRC Sends Team to Check Guantanamo Hunger Strike

by VOA News

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has sent a delegation to check conditions at the Guantanamo U.S. military prison, a week earlier than planned, because of a hunger strike among detainees.

A Navy spokesman says more than two dozen of the 166 prisoners have joined the hunger strike at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Lawyers representing most of the 166 detainees say the strike began almost two months ago to protest indefinite detention without charge, and the diminishing prospects the prison will be closed.
 
Most detainees have been held for 11 years without charge and more than half have been cleared for transfer or release.  But the United States will not send some back to their homelands because of instability or concerns over mistreatment, and other countries are reluctant to accept them for resettlement.

The ICRC generally does two-week visits every six weeks to meet with Guantanamo prisoners.

The Navy spokesman said 11 of the hunger strikers have lost enough weight they are being fed liquid meals through tubes, and three of those were hospitalized for rehydration and observation.

Hunger strikes have occurred periodically since the site opened in January 2002 to hold men captured in counter-terrorism operations following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
 
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.