The number of hunger strikers at the United States’ infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba has risen, US military officials say.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House, 97 prisoners are currently on hunger strike.
However, the detainees’ lawyers dispute the number saying nearly all of the 166 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are refusing to eat. They also say many are being force-fed to prevent dangerous weight loss.
The US military official added that 19 of the prisoners on hunger strike were being force-fed via tubes snaked up their nose and into their stomach, and five had been hospitalized.
Most of the inmates have been on hunger strike for more than two months.
The hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay prison has also attracted outcry from the international community and human rights organizations.
On Saturday, Human Rights Watch counterterrorism adviser Laura Pitter issued a statement saying “The illegal detentions without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay have gone on for more than a decade with no end in sight. The Obama administration simply has to do more to end this unlawful practice that will forever be a black mark on US history.”
In a similar move, Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has also urged the Obama administration to mend the situation in Guantanamo that has compelled prisoners to starve themselves. Maurer has criticized force-feeding, which has been used as a solution to the hunger strike.
The hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay began on February 6 as a protest against the inmates’ indefinite detention without charge as well as the intrusive searches of their cells.
The inmates have been kept at Guantanamo without charge since early 2000s.