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News Link • Criminal Justice System

Letter from Gitmo: A detainee writes from day 65 of his hunger strike

•, by Max Fisher
He had company: By mid-March, The Washington Post reported 14 detainees on hunger strike; by mid-April, it was up to 43.

The camp’s military guards have responded to the hunger strike with force-feedings and by clamping down on such freedoms as allowing detainees to leave their cell doors open and live communally. A recent clash between guards and prisoners wounded even some guards and ended with gunfire that included, according to a military spokesman, “four less-than-lethal rounds.”

Monday, The New York Times published an op-ed column by al-Hasan describing the hunger strike that he says has cost him 30 pounds of body weight. He dictated the column through an interpreter during a phone call to his lawyers. While it does not directly address the question of why they are hunger striking (more on this below), it does describe in harrowing detail what he says is an increasingly haphazard force-feeding routine:
Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray. 

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