A new hunger strike is underway at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with more than a dozen detainees subjecting themselves to daily force-feeding to protest their treatment, The Boston Globe reported Monday.
According to the online edition of the newspaper, lawyers for the hunger-strikers were quoted as saying that their clients' actions are driven by harsh conditions in a new maximum-security complex at Guantanamo to which about 160 prisoners have been moved since December 2006.
The 13 detainees now on hunger strike is the highest number to endure the force-feeding regime on an extended basis since early 2006, when the U.S. military broke a long-running strike with a new policy of strapping prisoners into "restraint chairs" while they are fed by plastic tubes inserted through their nostrils.
Yet their persistence underscores how the struggle between detainees and guards at Guantanamo has continued even as the military has tightened its control.
"We don't have any rights here, even after your Supreme Court said we had rights," one hunger-striker, Majid al-Joudi, told a military physician, according to medical records released recently under a federal court order.
"If the policy does not change, you will see a big increase in fasting," he said.
Guantanamo spokesman Robert Durand played down the significance of the current hunger strike, describing the prisoners' complaints as "propaganda."
The United States opened the detention facility at its naval base in Guantanamo in January 2002 to hold terror suspects and Taliban members mainly captured during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.
More than 390 detainees have been transferred abroad from Guantanamo, and currently about 385 prisoners are still being held there.