News / USA

Guantanamo Hunger Strike Grows

The exterior of Camp Delta is seen at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, March 6, 2013.
The exterior of Camp Delta is seen at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, March 6, 2013.
Luis Ramirez
Officials at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, say a detainee hunger strike is growing.  Thirty-one inmates are now taking part in the strike. The U.S. military says it has begun force-feeding at least 11 of them.  

Officials at the Joint Task Force Guantanamo detention facility say that between six and 12 detainees are on hunger strike during any given month at the prison but that the number of those refusing to eat has grown.

The hunger strike began after prison guards last month conducted what officials say was a routine search of the detainees’ belongings in which the detainees allege that guards desecrated copies of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, by touching them.

The case drew international media attention after the detainees’ lawyers complained.

A facility spokesman, Navy Captain Robert Durand, says the protest grew from six to more than 30.

“As the word of the hunger strike [was] getting out in the media, the detainees who can watch satellite television saw that they were getting some attention and the hunger strike has grown," said Durand. "So, it sort of grew on itself as the detainees achieved their ends of getting media attention and we believe that’s the goal of the detainees is to elicit attention through the media.”

Officials at the detention facility say the search in February was done according to procedure and that guards did not touch the Muslim holy books.

The inmates’ demands include an apology from the detention facility authorities, and new rules exempting Qurans from being searched.  

Durand says those are demands that detention facility officials cannot meet.

“We’re not going to admit to Quran abuse which didn’t take place," he said. "We’re not going to exempt the Quran for search because it’s the perfect place to hide things that could be used to injure themselves or guards, and we’ll continue to conduct those searches in a respectful manner as we have for 11 years.”

Durand says the detainees have offered to turn in their Qurans - a measure that prison officials reject out of concern that they might be portrayed as depriving the inmates of religious articles.

Lawyers for the detainees say they believe the number of detainees taking part in the hunger strike is higher than what U.S. military officials are reporting.

One hundred and 66 detainees are being held at the facility at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants without trial.  The facility has been the subject of longstanding protests by U.S. and international human rights activists.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid