United States military officials say that they will no longer report statistics about Guantanamo Bay detainees participating in a hunger strike. Participation numbers for a widespread hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay have largely fallen off since the protests began about six months ago.
While at its peak, the strike involved more than 100 of the 166 detainees on the base, the number of participants has dropped off severely since early July. Prison spokesperson Lt. Col. Samuel House stated:
“Following July 10, 2013, the number of hunger strikers has dropped significantly, and we believe today’s numbers represent those who wish to continue to strike,” he said. “As always, our medical professionals will continue to monitor and evaluate the detainees while providing them with the appropriate level of care. From this point forward we will respond to queries on hunger strikes individually.”
Currently, only 19 prisoners are continuing their hunger strike, which initially stemmed from protests over, on a large scale, the long-term detention of terror suspects, and more specifically, indelicate searches of inmates' Korans. The prison's handling of striking inmates by force-feeding them was a lightning rod for controversy.
There was some skepticism over the military's pronouncement on Monday, however:
Jon B. Eisenberg, a defense attorney for hunger-striking prisoners who are challenging their confinement in U.S. courts, said it’s impossible to know for certain whether the military’s tally is accurate, “given the government’s complete control” over information about the prison.
“In any case, it is undisputable that mass force-feeding, which is a human rights violation, is still happening at Guantanamo Bay on a daily basis,” Eisenberg added.