Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Guantanamo Hunger Strike

In February 2013 a hunger strike began at Guantanamo Bay as a result of what the prisoners viewed as the mistreatment of the Koran. The strike was also fueled by many prisoners’ frustration with being held either after being cleared for release 3 years prior or being designated to be held indefinitely without any trial at all.

In March 2013 the prison acknowledged that 14 prisoners were on hunger strike and said that 6 were being force fed. Some medical ethicists oppose force feeding but a spokesman for the prison said that the practice was used in order to protect the “life and health” of the prisoners.

In May 2013 Obama gave a speech where he said that he would lift the moratorium on releasing prisoners to Yemen.

During the G8 summit in June 2013 British Prime Minister David Cameron requested that Obama free Shaker Aamer, a British resident who was one of the hunger strikers. Aamer was cleared for release under the Bush Administration in 2007 and under the Obama Administration in 2010. Aamer says that he was doing charity work when he was captured in Afghanistan.

Later in June 2013 Aamer claimed that the prison authorities were using freezing cold cells and metal tipped feeding tubes to convince prisoners to stop their hunger strike. Aamer also said that a nurse who was force-feeding a prisoner pushed the feeding tube into the prisoner’s lung rather than his stomach. Aamer said of the tactics, “The administration is getting ever more angry and doing everything they can to break our hunger strike. Honestly, I wish I was dead."

On June 28 the hunger strike reached its peak with 106 of the 166 prisoners on hunger strike.

In July, twenty five prisoners quit hunger striking after guards allowed the prisoners to live communally if they gave up their hunger strike. During their hunger strike they had been living alone for months.

In August the Obama Administration transferred 2 prisoners to Algeria, they were the first to leave the prison since September 2012 when Omar Khadr was transferred to a prison in Canada.

The Miami Herald is reporting that there are still 14 prisoners on hunger strike, all of whom are being force fed.

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