December 29, 2005

US reports increase in Guantanamo hunger strike

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military on Thursday
reported a major surge since Christmas Day in the number of
Guantanamo Bay prisoners taking part in a nearly 5-month-old
hunger strike, with 84 currently refusing food.

Army Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin, a military spokesman, said 46
detainees at the prison for foreign terrorism suspects at the
U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, joined the hunger
strike last Sunday. The military defines a hunger striker as
someone who has refused nine straight meals.

The detainees launched their strike in early August after
the military reneged on promises to bring the prison into
compliance with the Geneva Conventions, according to lawyers
representing them. Detainees are willing to die to demand
humane treatment and a fair hearing on whether they must stay
at the prison, the lawyers said.

The United States currently holds approximately 500
detainees at Guantanamo, most captured in Afghanistan and many
held for nearly four years without charges.