The hunger strike involving more than 100 captives at Guantanamo Bay prison has worsened since Barack Obama promised action in his counterterrorism speech last week.
Before the May 23 address, 31 prisoners were being force-fed by military authorities, with one in the hospital. By Thursday, 36 were being force-fed and a total of five were hospitalized.
Detainees have also described intimidating body searches and other restrictions they say are intended to break their resolve. But the strike shows no sign of ending, despite Obama’s promise to shutter the facility and release many who have been held there without charge for more than 10 years.
“The numbers of strikers are not moving downwards. Nothing has changed,” said Carlos Warner, a lawyer for several prisoners.
There are currently 166 detainees at the detention center, 86 of whom have been cleared for release.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
… [L]awyers also described harsh regime in the base, including intense body searches of prisoners seeking to make phone calls. Smith said that this appeared designed to intimidate inmates from communicating with the outside world. He reported that of the last six phone calls he had tried to place to clients, four of them had been rejected because detainees had not wanted to go through the process. Warner also said he had had recent difficulty communicating with his clients.
In a statement, Smith reported Aamer as telling him last Friday: “To describe you the humiliation … they tossed me around like a burger. Flat on my back. They started dressing me with small-size underwear.”
Other detainees have made allegations that their genitals are touched during the searches and even that they have been subject to body cavity searches. “Our private parts are checked and they know is a sensitive matter for us and our religion,” said Syrian detainee Abu Wael in a statement passed to the Guardian.
Protesters depict detainees at Guantanamo Bay during a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in London on May 18.