Military Says Gitmo Hunger Strike Ending, Inmates' Lawyers Disagree

"Making them eat prison yard dirt doesn't count." - LawyersCredit: AslanMedia / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDAccording to military officials at the Guantanamo Bay detention, an ongoing hunger strike may be nearing its end.

On July 10, the hunger strike reached a peak participation rate of 106 of the 166 being held at the facility. Since then, the numbers have waned. As of Sunday, the prison's official list indicates that it has dropped to 81 detainees.

In a CBS article, the detention center's director of public affairs, Navy Capt. Robert Durand made several statements about the strike, which began in February. “We are just pleased that they are for the most part eating and for the most part we are having good order and discipline in the camps.” He also explained that “We have made no changes in our criteria. Many detainees who were on hunger strike are now eating, and have eaten enough consecutive meals to remove the status as hunger striker.”

Army Lt. Col. Samuel House, who CBS identified as a base spokesman, said “We can't speculate why they are choosing to come off hunger strike. It may be because of Ramadan or because they feel they've gotten their message across.”

However, others involved provide a different perspective on the situation, which has been marked by several controversies, such as the Red Cross's decision to intervene in March.

"You can't trust the military's numbers... I have no indication the strike is ending,” said Carlos Warner, a federal defense attorney who represents several of the inmates.

Another lawyer who represents detainees at Guatanamo provided further insight. Citing the religious month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast during the day but eat before dawn and after sunset, Clive Stafford said, "Some detainees are taking a token amount of food,” which “is now conveniently allowing them to be counted as not striking.”

Likewise, in a discussion with the New York Times, another representative of detainees, David Remes, expressed doubt about the camp's official claims:

Perhaps the authorities finally made hunger striking such a horrendous experience that some men, at least, are dropping out. Perhaps some men feel the hunger strike has achieved its goals by forcing Guantánamo back onto the national agenda and jump-starting the transfer process. There are still other ways to read the numbers. Until we speak with our clients, we can only speculate.

When inmates go on hunger strike, they are banned from communal settings, and are kept in individual cells.

The military force-feeds detainees whose weight and health has been compromised by the strike. A total of 45 men have been receiving the treatment, which involves forcing a lubricated tube into the nose and down the throat, since the beginning of July.

Although most of the detainees at Guantanamo remain uncharged or untried for the last decade, President Obama has not yet acted on his own calls to change the situation.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    I distinctly remember reading that Obama was closing the prison at Guantanamo.

  • A Serious Man||

    He tried but the Republicans wouldn't let him.

    So he gave up, because he respects our system of checks and balances too much to ever ignore Congress and the law.

    He's also a humble man that never runs his mouth on issues like guns, global climate warming change, his healthcare law, and a criminal proceeding in Florida that in no way involved him or the Federal government.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He should abduct Zimmerman and move him to Guantanamo for some sort of vague threat to national security.

  • SweatingGin||

    Snowden, too. Hell, throw in Greenwald. Then the progs will love him again. The mask is off.

  • SweatingGin||

    I can't wait until Obama is inaugurated and can close Guantanamo and fix all these things.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Well I supposed that if they're all being forcefed now, they're technically not on a hungerstrike anymore.

  • Hugh Akston||

    It's Ramadan right now, so technically, they're just "fasting."

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's just during the day. If they skip eating at night, that's beyond the religious requirement.

  • Hugh Akston||

    They're just really religious, ProLib.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Or the food really sucks. You'd think it wouldn't, being in Cuba. Roast pork, black beans and rice, yucca, plantanos, yum.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Well it is a Naval base. Does the Navy have bad food, or do they just gargle hot dogs?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I really don't know. Personally, I'd be eating the Cuban food.

    They can't leave the base, right? Because of the embargo? Maybe there are little foodtrucks at the gate?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Move them to Antarctica half the year and ClauseLand the other half. Make the moves during the day to not let evel one bit of night time sneak through.

  • Tim||

    I really don't feel sorry for these guys. The fact that even Obama won't let them go should tell you something.

  • Pro Libertate||

    They're Republicans?

  • Hugh Akston||

    They shot Trayvon Martin?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Winner!

  • Tim||

    I mean, if the Tea Party is the American Taliban, then these actual Taliban are Afghan Tea Partiers, metaphorically speaking.

  • Steve G||

    Love the circa '02 stock photo. Conditions have changed slightly since then...

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