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Military, lawyers disagree on Gitmo hunger strike

Toni Locy USA Today

The military and lawyers for detainees at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, disagree on the number of participants in a camp protest because each side defines a hunger striker differently.

For the second time since July, some of the 505 detainees at the prison camp are refusing to eat or drink to protest their indefinite imprisonments, the U.S. military said.

Army Maj. Jeffrey Weir, a Guantanamo Bay public affairs officer, said Sunday that 91 detainees are participating in the protest. Of the hunger strikers, 21 are at the infirmary and are receiving nutrition through feeding tubes in their noses or mouths. The military defines a hunger striker as a detainee who has missed nine consecutive meals.

Kristine Huskey, a Washington lawyer who represents 11 Kuwaiti detainees, visited the prison last week and says that “90 percent of the camp is on strike in varying degrees.” She says hunger strikers include detainees who miss a meal or two a day or refuse to take liquids.

Weir, however, says the numbers are steadily decreasing as detainees resume eating and drinking. “No one is anywhere near death,” he says, despite some of the detainees’ desire to commit what he calls “a slow form of suicide.”

Since January 2002, detainees have held several hunger strikes to protest the length of their detentions and treatment.

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