As Salon noted last week, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, over 100 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay detention camp have been on hunger strike for over a month. Robert Durand, director of public affairs for the Joint Task Force Guantánamo, had, however, denied claims of a mass hunger strike, stating that only nine prisoners were engaged in serious refusal of all food. On Wednesday Reuters reported that the official number of recognized hunger strikers at the camp has considerably grown:
Guantanamo prisoners are frustrated by the government's failure to close the detention camp and have launched a growing hunger strike to "turn the heat up," an American general told a congressional committee on Wednesday.
"They had great optimism that Guantanamo would be closed. They were devastated apparently ... when the president backed off, at least (that's) their perception, of closing the facility," Marine Corps General John Kelly told the House Armed Services Committee in Washington.
Kelly took over in November as head of the military's Southern Command in Miami, which oversees the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
Twenty-four Guantanamo captives were on a hunger strike and eight of them had lost enough weight that doctors were force-feeding them liquid nutrients thorough tubes inserted into their noses and down their stomachs, Captain Robert Durand, a spokesman at the detention camp, told Reuters. Two were hospitalized with dehydration, he said.