First Death ‘a Matter of Time’ as Gitmo Hunger Strike Continues

'They Won’t Let Us Live in Peace and Now They Won’t Let Us Die in Peace'

With the first strikers beginning three months ago, several of the Guantanamo Bay hunger strikers are now in failing health, and while the military is trying to downplay that, and is trying to ameliorate the situation with force-feedings, experts say that the first deaths are now just a matter of time.

23 are now being force-fed, a process sparking criticism of its human rights implications, and four of the detainees are now shackled permanently to beds in the hospital wing, too weak to move.

“They won’t let us live in peace and now they won’t let us die in peace,” complained Fayiz al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti held since 2002 on allegations that he once received personal religious instruction from Osama bin Laden. He has never had a trial and has been repeatedly abused in custody.

For the first two months of the strike, prisoners were in a communal detention center, though in April troops attacked the center and forced the strikers into solitary confinement, nominally for security reasons.

The military insists it is providing top notch medical treatment to the detainees, and “will not allow them to commit suicide,” nor will they change any of the policies that prompted the strikes in the first place. While they have done a remarkable job of keeping the crisis mostly out of the American press for the past few months, however, there is no way they can keep a hunger strike going permanently while force-feeding the captives, and when the detainees do start dying it may well force the administration to seriously reconsider its policies.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.