Nearly half of Guantánamo prisoners now on hunger strike

Miami HeraldApril 21, 2013 

Nearly half the war-on-terror captives at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, were considered hunger strikers Saturday, and more than 10 percent of all detainees were being tube fed, according to the military.

Army Lt. Col. Samuel House released the hunger strike figure — 77 of the 166 captives considered hunger strikers, 17 being force-fed via tubes snaked up their nose and into their stomach — in an email Saturday morning from the remote base a day after reporters left the island.

The hunger strike figure rose by 14 prisoners overnight. The military reported the hunger-strike figure at 63 on Friday.

A total of five captives were hospitalized Saturday, said House, deputy prison camps spokesman. None of the hospitalized captives “have any life-threatening conditions,” he added.

Hunger strike figures have been steadily climbing since U.S. troops raided a communal medium-security compound at the prison camps a week ago, and placed about 65 captives under single-cell lockdown. Weeks before the detainees had covered up most of the prison’s surveillance cameras and kept themselves largely out of view of their U.S. Army guards, the military said, stirring fears that some were planning to commit suicide.

“They wanted to die of hunger and thirst behind the hidden cameras,” according to the prison’s Muslim cultural advisor, a Pentagon employee who allows himself to be identified only by his first name, Zak.

Before the April 13 raid, the Pentagon prison reported that it considered 43 captives to be hunger strikers, had none in the hospital and 13 on tube feedings. But the figure has been rising as the 100-member Navy medical staff continues to assess the captives who were stripped of most of their belongings and confined to austere, single-occupancy cells.

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