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Number of hunger-striking Guantanamo detainees doubles

[JURIST] The number of detainees on hunger-strike at Guantanamo Bay has increased this month to 11 from five as the detention center's fifth anniversary [Amnesty International press release] approaches on Thursday. US military spokesman have in the past insisted that hunger strikes are a typical tactic of Al-Qaeda members, designed to achieve their release so that they can return to the battlefield. Extensive hunger strikes began at Guantanamo in the summer of 2005, and by September 2005 the number of participants had reached 128 [JURIST reports]. In response, the Pentagon adopted a policy of force-feeding the strikers [JURIST report]. As many as 89 prisoners [JURIST report] were on hunger strike this past June, when the US military released new comprehensive guidelines [JURIST report] for the treatment of detainees directing doctors to force-feed detainees who endanger their own lives as a result of a hunger strike. The number dropped dramatically afterwards. The guidelines have drawn harsh criticism from some international medical groups, with Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) [advocacy website] calling them "an assault on medical ethics, the professional integrity of military health personnel, the Geneva Conventions, and on US military tradition and discipline."

Since its inception, Guantanamo has seen 770 prisoners, only 10 of whom have been charged. Today, 395 captives remain, and revised charges against a group of prisoners are expected to be brought in February [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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