Number of Guantanamo prisoners on hunger strike rises to 89

Number of Guantanamo prisoners on hunger strike rises to 89

[JURIST] An additional 14 Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees have gone on hunger strike, Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand said Thursday, bringing the total number of detainees on hunger strike to 89 after it was announced Monday that the number of detainees on hunger strike ballooned from three to 75 [JURIST report]. Six of the 89 hunger strikers are being force-fed under close watch from medical staff. The US considers a detainee on hunger strike when they refuse nine meals in a row, and Durand speculates [Xinhua report] that the ballooning number of hunger strikers is a move to gain media attention ahead of the resumption of war crimes trials at Guantanamo on June 12.

The wave of hunger strikes began last July when 52 detainees stopped eating with the number more than doubling by September [JURIST reports]. Numbers dwindled to the single digits in February after guards enforced aggressive force-feeding measures [JURIST report], including restraining detainees for extended periods of time after feeding them through a tube in the detainee's nose. AP has more.

In a related development Thursday, the European Parliament [official website] postponed a vote on a proposed resolution that would call on the US to shut down the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik urged parliament to adopt the resolution [Expatica report] on Wednesday, calling the prison an "anomaly," but MEPs decided to delay vote on the resolution until June in order to allow time for a group of MEPs who visited Guantanamo last month to release their findings. EUPolitix.com has more.