More than a dozen detainees have launched a new hunger strike at Guantánamo, and the military has responded by starting to force-feed the detainees, according to an April 8 New York Times report. Lawyers for the hunger strikers said the strike was prompted by harsh conditions at a new maximum security complex, where some 160 prisoners had been moved since December. “The reports about the conditions at Camp 6 are deeply disturbing, and holding people indefinitely without legal process or access to family is an invitation to disaster,” Hina Shamsi, a lawyer with Human Rights First, told AP.
“We don’t have any rights here, even after your Supreme Court said we had rights,” the New York Times quotes one hunger striker, Majid al-Joudi, as telling a military physician, according to medical records released recently under a federal court order. “If the policy does not change, you will see a big increase in fasting,” al-Joudi said.
Newly released Pentagon documents show that during earlier hunger strikes, before the use of restraint chairs, some detainees suffered sharp weight losses. A handful of those prisoners lost more than 30 pounds in a matter of weeks, according to the report. (AFP, AP, April 10)
Among those being force-fed with tubes through the nostrils is Sudanese-born AlJazeera camerman Sami al-Hajj. Al-Hajj began his hunger strike on January 7 to protest against five years of detention without trial at the camp. Al-Hajj was a member of the AlJazeera news team that covered the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He was arrested by Pakistani police in December of that year in Chaman when he and a colleague tried to re-enter Afghanistan. AlJazeera had asked them to cover the inauguration of the new government. (Friends of AlJazeera, March 12)