Guantánamo Bay hunger strike prompts arrival of medical back-up

US military confirms presence of 40-strong team as 21 of 100 detainees refusing food are approved for force-feeding

in New York
guardian.co.uk, Monday 29 April 2013

Detention center at Guantanamo Bay

[A US military guard carries shackles at the US detention center in Guantánamo Bay.
Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images]

 

A 40-strong medical back-up team has arrived at Guantánamo Bay, as the number of inmates taking part in a hunger strike continues to rise, the US military has confirmed. By Monday, 100 detainees were refusing food, with 21 having been approved for force-feeding.

Authorities said that the “influx” of medical reinforcements had been weeks in the planning. But the news will fuel speculation that the condition of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo Bay is deteriorating. Shaker Aamer, the last British resident being kept at the centre, told his lawyer earlier this month that authorities will soon see fatalities as a result of the current action.

“I cannot give you numbers and names, but people are dying here,” said Aamer, who is refusing food.

The action is a protest against conditions at the centre, as well as the indefinite nature of the remaining prisoners’ confinement. Aamer has been cleared for release twice, but is still behind bars after 11 years. He has never been charged or faced trial but the US refuses to allow him to return to the UK, despite official protests by the British government.

Of the 166 detainees left at Guantánamo, almost two-thirds are on hunger-strike. Five of those approved by guards to be subjected to force-feeding are in hospital. Continue reading