News / USA

Guantanamo Prison Hunger Strike Grows

Guantanamo Prison Hunger Strike Growsi
X
May 08, 2013 8:41 PM
In the past two weeks, the number of detainees on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has grown to 100 - more than half of the 166 men being held there. The hunger strike has succeeded in drawing attention to their indefinite detention, and their treatment at the hands of the U.S. military, which runs the prison. VOA Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports among the chief complaints is the practice of force-feeding prisoners.
Luis Ramirez
In the past two weeks, the number of detainees on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has grown to 100 - more than half of the 166 men being held there.  The hunger strike has succeeded in drawing attention to their indefinite detention, and their treatment at the hands of the U.S. military, which runs the prison.  Among the chief complaints is the practice of force-feeding prisoners.
 
It is a daily routine at the detention facility; military staff, including a medical team, check to see who is eating and who is not.  
 
For the staff at Joint Task Force Guantanamo - whose mandate is to be safe, humane, legal, and transparent - the decision to force feed by inserting a tube into a detainee's nose and down to his stomach, is a matter of procedure. 
 
Navy Captain Robert Durand is a spokesman for the Guantanamo facility. 
 
“When a detainee refuses food, when they miss nine consecutive meals and declare an intent to be a hunger striker, we label them as a hunger striker and we start monitoring their health.  When they lose enough weight to endanger their health potentially, before they get to that point, usually about 85 percent of their ideal body weight, our joint medical group, the doctors and nurses and corpsmen, will make a recommendation to the joint task force commander that that detainee be enterally fed," he said. 
 
The hunger strike began in February.  The detainees, held for years, are protesting the U.S. government's failure to try those it suspects of being terrorists, or release the 86 detainees who have been cleared.  
 
President Obama promised to close the prison when he took office in 2009, but his administration blames his failure to do so on Congressional restrictions that require security guarantees from the countries that would receive them.  Recently, he restated his desire to see the prison closed.
 
But words are not enough for advocates pressing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to authorize the release of those who have been cleared. 
 
Attorney David Remes represents 17 of the hunger strikers. 
 
"My message to Hagel is to work with the administration and begin signing the national security waivers that Congress granted the president, which provided him with the authority and flexibility to transfer detainees who are at Guantanamo.  The administration can not keep passing the buck to Congress," he said. 
 
U.S. military officials say their responsibility is limited to providing care for the detainees. 
 
“Our job here is to make sure that they are held in a safe and humane manner and that when the time comes to transfer them, or release them, we will do that.  But until that time comes, you can be assured that we will do our job to safely and humanely detain them to the best of our ability," said Durand. 
 
Just a few months ago, the issue of the Guantanamo detainees was largely ignored by the U.S. media.  The hunger strike, and accounts of force-feeding, have put it back on Washington's radar.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs