Red Cross Workers Arrive at Gitmo to Check Out Hunger Strikers

Early Visit as Health Crisis Grows

by Jason Ditz, March 26, 2013

Red Cross officials have scrapped a planned visit to Guantanamo Bay in early April and instead came today, citing growing concerns with the state of hunger striking detainees, including at least three that were reportedly hospitalized because of failing health.

The Pentagon is admitting only 28 hunger strikers, but defense lawyers say the number is in excess of 100. The military maintains that many of the strikers are “cheating.” The strike began in February with the confiscation of detainees’ Qu’rans, and has continued in the face of anger over open-ended detentions without charges.

Red Cross spokesmen have urged the US to improve oversight at the prison and stop being so secretive about the status of so many held at the prison, particularly those who have already been cleared for release but who remain, seemingly forever.

The decision to arrive early might also have been a practical one, as defense lawyers say that the military has been restricting flights to the detention center recently, allowing only a single military flight to the base and only those approved by the Pentagon to come along. With such restrictions on the rise as the hunger strike worsens, the Red Cross workers may have needed to get in while the getting was good.

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