Guantanamo Hunger Strike Continues, Spreads

Detainees fear they'll never be released


The hunger strike in Guantánamo continues to grow, even by the U.S. military's questionable count. The military states that 100 of the 166 prisoners there are on strike, 21 are being force-fed, and five have been hospitalized. Lawyers for the prisoners put the number of hunger strikers at over 130. So many prisoners are in need of medical care that the military has now brought some 40 additional Navy "corpsmen, nurses, and other specialists" to add to the 100 already on duty.

The prime motivator for the strike, as reported in a front-page story in The New York Times last week, is the prisoners' growing despair that they will never go home. General John F. Kelly, who as head of U.S. Southern Command ultimately oversees the prison, recently told Congress that the prisoners "had great optimism that Guantánamo would be closed. They were devastated apparently … when the president backed off — at least their perception — of closing the facility." The Director-General of the Red Cross tweeted this weekend that the "level of desperation amongst detainees is unprecedented."