Lawyers for prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] said on Monday that the US government has started to notify them when their clients participating in a hunger strike are being force-fed. The hunger strike [RT timeline], which has been ongoing since February, is a protest against indefinite detainment and the confiscation and unreasonable searches [RT report] of detainees' personal items. A US military official said [AP report] that the government's policy previously was to avoid discussing any prisoner by name, but lawyers said they are now being notified if their clients are among those being force-fed through a tube to prevent dangers to their health from weight loss. The government reported that as of Monday that 42 prisoners were participating in the hunger strike and 11 were being force-fed, but prisoners' lawyers report that these numbers are much higher. The US Department of Defense [official website] also reported on Sunday that detainees are being moved to single-cell living [press release] in order for the government to increase monitoring of them, and will be medically assessed in response to the hunger strike.
The hunger strike has stoked controversy between human rights lawyers and Guantanamo officials about whether prisoners are being provided with sufficient necessities to avoid health issues. Last month, lawyers for one Guantanamo detainee filed an emergency motion [JURIST report] with the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] alleging that Guantanamo guards were failing to provide prisoners with sufficient drinking water and clothing. The lawyers alleged that this treatment was being used to undermine the inmates, and attached a report by a psychiatrist concluding that the hunger strike combined with a lack of sufficient water could have serious health implications. Earlier that month, lawyers for some inmates along with the Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website] sent a letter [JURIST report] to a rear admiral describing invasions of privacy and harsh conditions suffered by detainees, as well as the means of protest they have used, including the hunger strike. The lawyers just learned of these conditions after a military judge ruled that they could visit [JURIST report] their clients at the camp for the first time in February.