President Obama’s decision to keep Guantanamo Bay Detention Center open may soon have very real and deadly consequences. Twenty-eight prisoners are now on a hunger strike with at least ten prisoners being force fed. The hunger strike is a stark reminder that every day Guantanamo remains open is a black mark on the U.S. record on human rights.
Three detainees have been hospitalized as a result of the hunger strike which has gained momentum among the prison population over the past few weeks. The 10 men who are being force fed liquid nutrients are shackled to a chair while a feeding tube is inserted into their nose. The hunger strike was first publicly acknowledged some 10 days ago but attorney’s for the prisoners say it began in February after prisoners were subject to enhanced searches of their quarters and Quran. Attorney's also believe the military is lying about how many detainees are participating, they say the military tally of 28 is far too low. How the military camp classifies hunger strikes and whether these individuals are getting food from any other source is not known.
There are currently 166 prisoners remaining at the detention camp, most of these individuals are considered low-level detainees. Almost half of those who remain at the detention center were cleared for release over a year ago, but Congress has put a halt on transfers out of Guantanamo.
In March of 2011 President Obama declared that Guantanamo Bay would remain open despite promises he made during the 2008 election. For many, Guantanamo Bay represents a direct violation of U.S. rule of law. The detainees are held in a state of indefinite detention with no access to due process. The detention camps military tribunal system has been widely and justly criticized.
The U.S. diminishes everything it believes in by not standing for legal, credible, criminal investigations and trials. Barack Obama must intervene in this hunger strike and use it as an opportunity to close Guantanamo Bay and keep an election promise he broke long ago.