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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid