For Prisoners 'Abandoned' in Gitmo 'Hell,' Struggle Not Over

While both military officials at Guantanamo Bay and lawyers for prisoners say that the numbers of actively participating hunger strikers at the offshore prison have decreased to the point where the hunger-strike is no longer considered prison-wide, at least 18 inmates continue to refuse food—meaning the hunger strike is not over—and conditions for those facing indefinite detention remain dire.

The U.S. military announced Monday it will no longer provide daily updates on the ongoing Guantanamo Bay hunger strikes, citing a drop in numbers. “Following July 10, 2013, the number of hunger strikers has dropped significantly, and we believe today’s numbers represent those who wish to continue to strike,” Lt. Col. Samuel E. House, a military spokesman in Guantanamo, wrote in an email to reporters.

Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Common Dreams that the number of strikers does appear to be decreasing, yet the count the military provides should always be viewed with caution, because the military “doctors them down.” Al Jazeera reports that several inmates remain on long-term hunger strike since 2007, and 18 inmates are still on a force-feeding list, suggesting many continue to refuse food in protest.

While the prison-wide hunger strike is growing smaller, the “reasons for it are not,” said Kadidal, noting that several individuals have decided to continue their strikes regardless of the dwindling prison-wide strikes. “From a year into the Obama administration, people realized that the president abandoned any commitment to making changes at Guantanamo,” he declared, noting there is no indication of any meaningful changes of White House policy to come.