If the strategy isn’t working, it must be time to double down:
(Reuters) – The U.S. military is sending additional medical personnel to the Guantanamo prison camp, where more than half the captives have joined a hunger strike to protest their open-ended detention, a camp spokesman said on Monday…
House said the new arrivals would include a doctor, nurses, corpsmen and medics, who will supplement the 100 medical personnel already on duty. Navy hospital corpsmen and Army medics are trained to provide emergency care and basic medical services.
“There was no specific trigger, other than the growing number of detainees that have chosen to hunger strike,” House said….
Forty-three prisoners had joined the hunger strike by April 13, when guards in riot gear swept through a communal prison and forced the detainees into one-man cells where they could be better monitored. Camp officials said the detainees had covered the security cameras and windows, blocking guards’ view.
The number refusing meals has grown steadily since then, and two prisoners tried to kill themselves by making nooses with their clothing, House said. Lawyers for the prisoners have said the hunger strike is more widespread than the military acknowledges, with between 100 and 130 detainees taking part.
More than half of Guantanamo’s prisoners have been cleared for release but Congress has put stringent restrictions on transfers. About two-thirds of those cleared for release are Yemenis and the Obama administration has halted repatriations to their homeland because of instability there.
The U.S. military counted 84 of the 166 prisoners as hunger strikers on Monday and was force-feeding 16 of them liquid meals through tubes inserted in their noses and down into their stomachs. Six were hospitalized for observation, House said.
NYMag, April 14th:
When guards at the Guantanamo Bay prison tried to move hunger-striking inmates living communally into individual cells on Saturday, the detainees did not go quietly. They fought back when guards moved in, using batons, broomsticks, and mop handles to resist the forced return to individual cells, so the guards fired rubber bullets that hit at least one inmate — the only injury being made public. The guards decided it was time to break up the inmates’ communal living situation because they had been covering up security cameras and windows…
But lawyers for both the inmates and the military, as well as the Red Cross, “agree that the hunger strike is also born of a deeper frustration that the Obama administration has abandoned any real effort to close the facility.” A lawyer for the inmates told CNN that the detainees, some of whom have been in Guantanamo Bay for ten years, were frustrated with not just their conditions but the sense of an unending legal limbo. “It leaves them with the prospect of the only way we leave Guantanamo is death,” attorney Carlos Warner said. “Unfortunately, I think the men are ready to embrace this.”
To second that, here’s a NYTimes op-ed from detainee Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, “Gitmo Is Killing Me”:
I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.
I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.
I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either…