Attorneys: Gitmo hunger strike could lead to deaths

Dramatic weight loss and at least one suicide attempt -- the situation is deadly say detainees' lawyers

By Natasha Lennard

Published April 11, 2013 8:15PM (EDT)

Lawyers representing a number of the Guantánamo Bay detainees partaking in a hunger strike that began in February warn death is a "distinct possibility" for some of the inmates taking part in the protest. As the Guardian reported Thursday, the attorneys "describe dramatic weight loss among many of the hunger strikers, force-feeding, putting protesters in isolation and at least one suicide attempt – though that has been denied by military authorities." As noted here earlier this week, detainees’ lawyers with the Center for Constitutional Rights have put the strike numbers at 166, while military officials have listed 42 detainees with 11 being force-fed.

Via the Guardian:

Lawyer Pardiss Kebriaei, who visited the isolated military base on Cuba last week, said that she met two of her clients who were both refusing food. One of them, Yemeni Ghaleb Al-Bihani, told her he had lost 40 pounds since joining the hunger strike which now involves a large majority of the base's prisoners and began some two months ago. Kebriaei said that Al-Bihani suffered from diabetes and was already on a "high risk" list of detainees who had previously diagnosed serious health problems.

"He seemed very weak," Kebriaei said. She added that another detainee she met, a second Yemeni called Sabry Mohammed, had lost some 30 pounds. Mohammed is one of the 86 detainees at the base who have been officially cleared for release. Kebriaie said that she was concerned that the length of the hunger strike, coupled with pre-existing health problems like the diabetes suffered by Al-Bihani, could result in deaths soon. "Death can occur. That is an objective medical fact," she said. "There are people in critical condition. Death is a distinct possibility."

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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