Begun in February to protest the confiscation of detainees’ Qurans, the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay has moved into its 100th day, with more strikers joining in and the ones who have been striking from the beginning increasing in failing health.
Defense lawyers have been critical of the military’s treatment of the strike, which has been to repeatedly downplay it. At present, they are conceding to at least 102 strikers, 30 of whom are being force-fed. They continue to insist no one is in a “life-threatening condition.”
Which is flat out nonsense, according to medical experts, who say that simply being on a hunger strike for that long, whether being force-fed or not, qualifies as “life-threatening.” Reports continue to emerge of detainees collapsing from hunger in solitary confinement, while others remain shackled to hospital beds.
The hunger strike is being carried out not only by “suspects” being held at the facility, but many detainees who have long since been cleared for release, and who the administration simply never seems to get around to releasing. After years of waiting, many see death as the only way out, and the force-feedings as just one more arbitrary punishment.
The Pentagon has continued to defend its behavior, from force-feedings to violent crackdowns on the prisoners. Attorney Ramzi Kassem has pressed the Justice Department to review the April crackdown, calling on them to release photos of his client covered in blood after being shot repeatedly by “non-lethal rounds” during a guard attack on the prison. The military says no further reviews will take place.