US Military Goes Silent on Guantanamo Hunger Strike Numbers

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp has
changed its protocol. Undeterred by criticism about transparency
and humans rights violations, officials at the camp will no longer
disclose information about detainees on hunger strike.

Despite bearing the
“safe, humane, legal, transparent detention,” Guantanamo
Bay “officials have determined that it is no longer in their
interest to publicly disclose the information,” the Associated
Press reported on Tuesday.

Until then, the camp released daily information about the
detainees, many of whom have never
been charged
for crimes and are being held indefinitely without
trial. Others, as Reason‘s J.D. Tuccille
points out
, remain at the facility despite being cleared for
release years ago.

The AP points out the significance of the military’s new silence
on the matter, as hunger strikes have acted as an “unofficial
barometer of conditions at the secretive military outpost” and the
“number of hunger strikers” can be seen “as a measure of discontent
at the prison.”

“Guantanamo allows detainees to peacefully protest, but will not
further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public. The
release of this information serves no operational purpose and
detracts from the more important issues, which are the welfare of
detainees and the safety and security of our troops,” stated Navy
Cmdr. John Filostrat, who oversees the camp’s public relations.

Carol Rosenberg, who covered the number of hunger strikers daily
for the Miami Herald, reports that he asked
Filostrat to “elaborate on how the daily report interfered with
troop security and detainee welfare,” but Filostrat refused.

The most recent (and likely final) report stated that 15
prisoners were on strike. All of them were in poor enough condition
that they had to be force-fed, a process that has been
a form of torture.

Earlier this year, in a mass protest the hunger strike reached

a peak participation rate
of 106 of the 166 being held at the
facility. The numbers dropped and officials declared the strike
over in July. This is not exactly accurate, though, as there was
a day
without multiple prisoners on strike.

from Hit & Run

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