March 16, 2013
The US Military said Friday that 14 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay prison can be defined as hunger strikers, five more than they had previously reported. Lawyers have said that more than 100 inmates are taking part in the five-week-long protest.
One of the strikers was taken to the prison hospital, Guantanamo detention center spokesperson Navy Capt. Robert Durand said Friday. Five others are being fed through tubes put through their noses into their stomachs, while eight others are not yet sufficiently malnourished to merit such treatment, he said.
Durand denied that the hunger strike is “a widespread phenomenon, as alleged,” by the captives’ lawyers, and blamed them of spreading “outright falsehoods and gross exaggerations.” He downplayed the reports of a mass strike at Gitmo, saying that most of the alleged strikers are skipping regular meals, but substituting them with snacks.
“Refusing prepared meals and choosing to subsist for a time on snack foods does not constitute a hunger strike,” Durand said.
Earlier, layers said most of the 130 prisoners held at Camp 6, where the majority of Gitmo’s 166 prisoners are incarcerated, are taking part in a hunger strike. Fifty-one attorneys wrote Thursday to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel calling on him to intervene.
The huge disparity in the numbers of strikers reported by Guantanamo staff and by the lawyers is explainable by the fact that the definition of a hunger striker is in the hand of authorities, said Pardiss Kebriaei from the Center Constitutional Rights, one of the complainant lawyers.
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