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Gitmo hunger strike: Timeline

Published time: March 20, 2013 15:19
Edited time: October 19, 2013 02:51

A mass hunger strike has been unfolding in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison for over three months now. RT has been badgering the UN, prison officials, detainees’ attorneys and activists to get a full account of the situation.

October 19

02:08 GMT: A Canadian judge denied Friday a request by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr for transfer from a maximum security federal penitentiary.

Khadr was seeking to move to a provincial facility, as his lawyers argued that the Canadian government was illegally holding Khadr as an adult for offenses committed as a juvenile.

The Edmonton judge upheld Khadr’s status in a federal prison based on the International Transfer of Offenders Act that governed his transfer to Canada from the US Navy prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Khadr, 27, was 15 when he was shot and captured by US Special Forces in Afghanistan. He pleaded guilty in 2010 to five war crimes - spying, conspiracy, providing material support, attempted murder and murder of a US soldier in the 2002 firefight. A plea deal offered him a return to Canada to serve the rest of an eight-year sentence.

Omar Khadr (AFP/Janet Hamlin)

October 18

22:27 GMT: A US appeals court showed openness Friday to allowing Guantanamo Bay hunger strikers to challenge force-feeding procedures. Defense attorneys call the method inhumane, but the Obama administration says it is needed to keep order at the prison.

Two judges on a three-judge panel were skeptical of claims made by government lawyers that the US Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit had no jurisdiction over the prison at a US Navy base in Cuba.

The judges indicated that lower courts should allow detainees to challenge forced feedings. A decision is likely weeks or months away, yet their posture leaves open the possibility for a new challenge to how the US treats Guantanamo prisoners.

October 17

11:40 GMT: In its decade long-existence, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp has been much discussed and often reviled – but rarely seen. In this special report, RT’s Anastasia Churkina was granted access to the world’s most infamous prison. (VIDEO)

October 13

00:37 GMT: Guantanamo guards were conducting regular night raids on inmates’ cells, putting prisoners in solitary confinement and manipulating temperature in the cells to force an end to the months’ long hunger strike in the camp, detainees claim.

Details of alleged mistreatment have emerged from declassified letters and interviews published by the lawyers of some of the 164 men who remain in the US facility on Cuba. 

October 10

09:01 GMT: The Pentagon has launched a new board to review the threat posed by prisoners held without charge at Guantanamo military prison. The move is aimed at aiding the eventual closure of the facility, a goal that the Obama administration has failed to achieve.

October 5

06:00 GMT: A federal judge has ordered the US to release a Guantanamo Bay prisoner Ibrahim Idris of Sudan suffering from mental illness who has spent much of his 11 years at the prison in a psychiatric ward.

September 27

01:56 GMT: A US military request for funding to renovate the prison base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was denied by Pentagon officials in the Obama administration who, while pledging to close the prison, have been consistently prevented from doing so by Congress.

September 7

02:57 GMT: A US demonstrator was force-fed through a nasal tube in front of the White House in an effort to show that the procedure used at Guantanamo Bay is torture.

Andres Thomas Conteris, weakened by a 61-day fast, went through with the force-feeding in order to raise awareness of the issue and encourage other Americans to speak out against the procedure.

"It feels like endless agony," AFP quoted Conteris as saying. "Any motion is painful, it feels like I'm drowning."

The procedure, dubbed “enteral feeding,” is used on hunger strikers at the Guantanamo Bay. US authorities argue that the process is merely uncomfortable – not torturous.

Protester Andrés Thomas Conteris (C) is force-fed by Dr. Terry Fitzgerald (L) during a demonstration in solidarity with hunger-striking inmates at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, in front of the White House in Washington on September 6, 2013. (AFP Photo/Nicolas Kamm)

02:56 GMT: As of Saturday, there are 22 detainees on hunger strike - eight less than the day before - with 20 on the enteral feeding list, deputy director of Guantanamo public affairs, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel E. House, said in a letter to RT.

August 29

23:03 GMT: The US announced the release of two detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay to their home nation of Algeria, bringing the total number of detainees at the prison to 164. Nabil Said Hadjarab and Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab were approved for transfer based on a review directed by President Obama. Hadjarab had been detained for 12 years, his lawyer told the Guardian, and was cleared for release in 2007. He took part in the ongoing hunger strike at the prison. More than 37 detainees remain on hunger strike, according to the US military.

August 28

00:38 GMT: Young Guantanamo Bay military personnel get a crash-course briefing on the events of 9/11 and how they connect to the prison, ProPublica reported.

A Freedom of Information Act request shows the FBI gives the briefings armed with a presentation including details about the hijackings, videos of the World Trade Center and recordings of 9-1-1 calls from the towers. The FBI said they withheld nine slides of the presentation “to protect law enforcement tactics.” Five detainees are currently on trial at Gitmo for the 9/11 attacks.

August 23

19:03 GMT: Despite military claims that the number of hunger strikers in Guantanamo is decreasing, it is still “grand in duration and in size,” Carlos Warner, lawyer for several inmates told RT.

He says the data coming from the prison authorities is “unreliable” as “we don’t know what the military use as their metric to say that somebody isn’t hunger striking.”

18:57 GMT:
As the hunger strike entered its 200th day, 37 inmates continued to refuse food, with 33 of them being subjected to force feeding, Guantanamo officials said. The only hunger-striking prisoner, who was previously being treated in the detainee’s hospital, has now been returned to his cell.

August 19

16:00 GMT: The existence of the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba - where detainees serve life sentences for terrorism - violates human rights, German human rights commissioner Markus Loening told German news agency Deutsche Presseagentur on Monday. He also stressed that Gitmo brings into disrepute Washington and its allies, with Germany among them. Those fighting to close Gitmo have a valid case, because prisoners are kept there illegally, Loening added. Germany has already granted admission to three ex-Guantanamo prisoners.

August 18

21:36 GMT: Defense lawyers for 9/11 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay are resisting a push by US military prosecutors to rush through controversial evidence and start the trial in September 2014. The decision of the military judge could hinge on how deeply the defense is allowed to delve into details of the defendants’ treatment in CIA prisons – before they were brought to Guantanamo. The defense lawyers are protesting that prosecutors have not handed over the most contentious evidence, and are trying to railroad the hearings through without proper time for the defense to review the prosecution’s evidence.

August 12

20:20 GMT: The detainees at Guantanamo Bay have been requesting books written by bestselling author John Grisham, best known for his legal thrillers such as “The Firm.” However, about two months ago some of them were banned by the US military due to "impermissible content," Grisham wrote in an Op-Ed article for The Guardian on Monday.

August 10

22:05 GMT: A former MI6 officer will begin a week long hunger strike on Monday in solidarity with Shaker Aamer, the last inmate of Guantanamo with British residency. Harry Ferguson, 52, says he is motivated by shame over the behavior of the British intelligence service he once served.   Ferguson  said that claims that British intelligence officers were covertly campaigning for Aamer not to be repatriated to the UK were the final straw. Aamer is the leading witness in a British police investigation that MI6 were present while Aamer was being tortured.

Ferguson's hunger strike is part of a campaign by the human rights charity Reprieve to support Guantanamo bay hunger-strikers by getting supporters to give up food temporarily. Stafford Smith, Aamer's lawyer, as well as actress Julie Christie and comedian Frankie Boyle are among those who have so far completed a hunger strike in support of Aamer.

August 9

10:00 GMT: Activists calling for closure of Guantanamo Bay prison have launched an online clock, which counts the time since President Obama’s latest promise to set free inmates whom the US cleared for release. So far all of the 86 men remain incarcerated.

August 6

20:30 GMT: Moscow has again tried to secure permission for its delegation to visit Ravil Mingazov - the only Russian citizen at Guantanamo, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 but presented with no official charge. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s representative for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, said in June that US authorities have not been doing what is in their power to arrange access. He told RIA Novosti on Monday that "we have again put forth that question, and we remain hopeful of progress on the matter and that the US State Department, together with the Pentagon, will play their part and secure a visit for the Russian delegation."

05:00 GMT: The Guantanamo hunger strike has hit the sixth month mark, with more than 60 inmates continuing to starve. Many of the hunger strikers continue to be force fed, a practice that the UN human rights commission classifies as torture. At its peak more than two-thirds of Guantanamo’s 166 prisoners refused food. In addition to human rights error and the ongoing urging of President Obama, the escalating cost of keeping dozens of men locked up indefinitely could finally prompt that sort of response, especially during an era of sequestering that has stripped the Pentagon of much of its funding this year already. A little more than a week ago, an analysis, first provided to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and made public last week, concluded that the cost of keeping the Pentagon open will amount to more than $5 billion by the end of 2014. Read more in RT's story. 

August 3

6:20 GMT: Moscow has so far not been able to negotiate the terms for its delegation to visit Guantanamo Bay to meet Ravil Mingazov, the only Russian citizen being detained at the facility. Russia-US talks over the issue have reached a deadlock, with Washington claiming Mingazov does not want to see Russian diplomats. The inmate’s attorney says his client is not against the meeting, but wants lawyers to be present, a condition which US authorities do not allow.

Moscow has persistently insisted on the visit, according to the Foreign Ministry's Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov.

"It’s important to us to assess the overall situation and to what extent human rights are being violated – and we know they are in that prison. The inmates over there have been on a hunger strike for months. We are witnessing a legal vacuum, as there’s a whole bunch of serious human rights issues,” the Russian daily Kommersant cites him as saying.

August 2

15:15 GMT: Protesters have taken to the streets of the Yemeni capital Sana'a to vent their anger at the detention of dozens of Yemini nationals held in Guantanamo. Protesters gathered outside the home of president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi on Friday demanding that Yemini nationals be released from the camp. 

7:15 GMT: Shaker Aamer, the last British resident imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, says he suffers from regular assaults, including those of a sexual nature, from the guards.

“I refuse to do what they tell me, even though I know I am about to get beaten up,” Aamer said in the phone call, which was published Thursday by British newspaper The Independent. “Sometimes, you just have to make a stand, however pointless that stand might seem to be.”

He added that guards sexually assaulted inmates during searches, in what the prisoners call “a Gitmo massage.”

Aamer has been imprisoned in the facility for almost 11 years without being formally charged.

August 1

15:34 GMT:  Five more detainees have ended their hunger strike, reducing the number of strikers to 61, according to Guantanamo officials. There are 166 detainees at the facility, and 42 of them are still being subjected to force feeding. Two hunger-striking inmates are being monitored in the detainee hospital, but are not suffering from any life-threatening conditions.

July 26

The US Defense Department notified Congress on Friday that it plans to repatriate two Guantanamo detainees to Algeria, White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

“We are taking this step in consultation with Congress, and in a responsible manner that protects our national security,” the statement said.

“We continue to call on Congress to join us in supporting these efforts by lifting the current restrictions that significantly limit our ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo, even those who have been approved for transfer,”
Carney added. 

Currently, eighty-six of the 166 Guantanamo detainees are still held in the US prison despite being cleared for release.

Sixty-eight Gitmo prisoners are taking part in the ongoing hunger strike in protest against their indefinite detention, with 44 detainees being force-fed, according to prison officials.

Reuters / Bob Strong

July 20

A US government official has notified the lawyers of Guantanamo prison detainees that their clients who can neither be prosecuted nor released will have their cases reviewed to decide on their indefinite detention, investigative reporter Jason Leopold wrote on The Freedom of the Press Foundation website.

According to an email obtained by Leopold that was sent to attorneys from periodic review secretariat director retired Navy Rear Admiral Norton C. Joerg, “a new Periodic Review Board (PRB) process will review the continued detention of certain detainees to assess whether continued law of war detention is necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

The Board is set to determine the level of “threat” for each individual, and decide if their detention needs to continue, Joerg was quoted as saying. It will not, however, address whether the Gitmo prisoners’ “law of war” detention is legal.

This comes some two years after the US President Barack Obama signed an executive order to form a parole board to begin reviewing the prisoners’ cases.

July 19

09:00 GMT: The controversial British comic Frankie Boyle has gone on hunger strike in support of Shaker Aamer, the last British detainee in Guantanamo. Boyle took over from the human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, who represents Mr. Aamer, and had been on hunger strike for a week. Boyle donated £50,000 he won in a libel action against the Daily Mirror to Aamer’s legal fund in December last year.

Image from Frankie Boyle’s Facebook page.

July 18

20:32 GMT: The latest update from the Guantanamo prison reveals 75 detainees are designated as hunger strikers. Forty six of those are being force-fed. Three inmates that are on hunger strike are being monitored in the hospital, one of which is approved for enteral feeds. None of the hospitalized prisoners have a life threatening condition.

July 17

20:56 GMT: Groin searches at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp have been allowed to continue on a temporary basis, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

The court allowed an emergency motion for a temporary delay in enforcing last week’s ruling by Judge Royce Lamberth’s forbidding the act, calling the searches “religiously and culturally abhorrent.” Lamberth said that searches were carried out to deter detainees’ access to lawyers and not to enhance security at the facility.

The US government argued that Lamberth’s ruling will reduce security at Guantanamo by making it easier to smuggle contraband into the facility.

19:19 GMT: Two more detainees have agreed to accept food, bringing the number of hunger strikers to seventy eight, said Lt. Col. Samuel E. House, deputy director of public affairs at Guantanamo Bay.There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, while 46 of the hunger strikers are still subjected to  force feeding. Three hunger striking prisoners are being observed in the detainee hospital, but do not have any life threatening conditions. Three hunger striking prisoners are being observed in the detainee hospital, but do not have any life threatening conditions, House stated.

Human rights activists and relatives of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison shout slogans during a protest to demand the release of the detainees, outside the U.S. embassy in Sanaa June 17, 2013 (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)

July 14

18:23 GMT: Another 15 Guantanamo detainees have accepted food, giving up their ongoing hunger strike. As of Sunday, 81 of Guantanamo’s 166 detainees were being tracked as hunger strikers, with 45 of those on the enteral feed list. Three hunger striking detainees are being observed in the detainee hospital, one of which is receiving enteral feed, Lt. Col. Samuel E. House, deputy director of public affairs at Guantanamo Bay, told RT.

July 13

17:17 GMT: As of Saturday, there are 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Ninety-six detainees are participating in the hunger strike, 45 of whom are on the enteral feed list. Three hunger striking prisoners are being observed in the detainee hospital, but do not have any life threatening conditions, Lt. Col. Samuel E. House, deputy director of public affairs at Guantanamo Bay, told RT.

04:02 GMT: Nearly all of the Guantanamo Bay inmates participating in a hunger strike have continued eating, US military officials said Friday, in a possible indication that their protest has improved the immediate conditions of their indefinite imprisonment.

The military said that 99 of the 102 hunger strikers have consumed a meal within the past 24 hours, bringing a possible end to the nearly six-month-long demonstration meant to focus international attention on the inmates’ detentions. 

July 12

13:07 GMT: According to Guantanamo Bay officials, two of the detainees ended their hunger strike bringing the number of strikers to 102 out of 166 detainees in the facility.

Forty-five are subjected to force feeding, while three hunger strikers are monitored in the prison’s hospital, one which is ‘approved for enteral feeds.’ The prison officials state that none of the detainees in hospital care have any life threatening conditions.

Activists from Amnesty International human rights association hold posters reading "End Detention Charge or Release", "Close Guantanamo Now" and displaying a drawing featuring US President Barack Obama during a protest action on the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, on June 19, 2013 (AFP Photo / Oliver Lang)

July 11

08:20 GMT: Human rights lawyer and long-time anti-Guantanamo campaigner Clive Stafford Smith has embarked on his own hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners. He pledges to do it for 7-10 days and is hoping that other prominent people will take up the baton.

It’s very important for us to understand a little bit of the suffering those people are going through,” Smith said, adding he was especially grateful to rapper Mos Def, who had courage to be filmed having a tube stuck up his nose.

What I’m doing is minimal compared to what those prisoners are going through there. I’ve been on a hunger strike for 24 hours and they’ve been doing it for five months. Of course, it’s not the same, but I do think there are some famous people who are going to join me in doing this and I think hopefully that’s going to get attention on the prisoners’ plight there,” Smith told RT.

July 10

00:10 GMT: Two influential US senators have written to President Obama, asking that he direct the Pentagon to halt the force-feeding of Guantanamo detainees in all cases, unless medically necessary to save a detainee’s life.

The joint letter by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, two of the biggest proponents of shutting down the prison camp and both Democrats, also quoted Monday’s federal ruling which determined that only the president has the necessary authority to halt the force-feedings.

“US military personnel serving at Guantanamo are doing an excellent job under difficult circumstances, but they are being asked to carry out an unsustainable policy of indefinite detention because Congress and the Executive Branch have failed to resolve this problem,” the senators wrote.

“The growing problem of hunger strikes is due to the fact that many detainees have remained in legal limbo for more than a decade and have given up hope,” they add.

According to Wednesday’s letter, Senator Feinstein also wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month asking the Pentagon to reevaluate its policy. Feinstein says she has yet to receive a response from Hagel.

An inmate reaches near his cell at the Camp Delta detention center for terrorism suspects at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Reuters / Randall Mikkelsen)

July 9

9:36 GMT: Only President Barack Obama has the authority to halt the practice of force feeding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, a US judge has stated. Judge Gladys Kessler ruled she would be overreaching her authority by issuing an injunction against the practice.

July 8

13:19 GMT: Islamic leaders have called on US President Barack Obama to end force-feeding of the Guantánamo prisoners during the Ramadan fast, which is scheduled to start on July, 8, and end on August, 7. As Ramadan starts, the issue of force-feeding “is becoming increasingly embarrassing for the US government; it's about time President Obama took a brave decision to end this in a way that would be appreciated around the Islamic world," an Islamic community leader in Britain, Dr Azzam Tamimi, told The Guardian. According to the Guantánamo spokesperson, the fast of Ramadan will be observed by synchronizing the force-feeding of Muslim inmates to the Ramadan fast schedule.

July 6

13:10 GMT:  “The detainees are looking for real concrete signs their needs are being met and not ignored. An easy way to do that is to begin to send the cleared Yemenis back home to Yemen where their government wants them,” Morris Davis, the former Chief prosecutor for terrorism trials at Guantanamo, told RT. 

Video: /files/news/1e/5e/f0/00/original_davis1900_2.asf

13:00 GMT: “Gitmo is a lawless place, it was designed that way by Dick Cheney,” Carlos Warner,  an attorney for 11 hunger strike participants on the island, told RT.

Video: /files/news/1e/5e/f0/00/original_636304_carlos_warner.mxf.mp4

04:00 GMT:  As the hunger strike in Guantanamo enters the 150 day, military attorney, Lt. Col. Barry Wingard tells RT that his client’s health is quickly deteriorating. “He feels very much pain” Wingard says as the guards “started to force-feed liquid through his skull into his stomach.”

To play down the force-feeding methods, Washington has hired a group of public relations professionals that tell lies. “They get new media people every Monday. They stay there from Monday – Friday. They never talk to a prisoner and they report an incomplete story that the military wants them to report,” the lawyer says.
“Guantanamo Bay is not about justice. It’s never been about justice and the fact that they’ve done 7 proceedings in eleven and a half years.  It will never be about justice. We are a million miles behind hypocrisy in Guantanamo Bay.”

Wingard argues that two things at this point can help the situation in Guantanamo, the first one being public pressure and “habeas petitions being refilled once American forces withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.”

The attorney concludes that since 98 percent of Gitmo inmates have no charges against them, to “say we can’t release them because they might do something in the future is completely ridiculous.”

July 5

Despite public outcry and annual spending of around $150 million, Obama is in no hurry to keep his promise of shutting down Guantanamo Bay. RT's Irina Galushko has looked into the possible reasons which cause the US president to keep the notorious detention facility operational.

Video: /files/news/1e/5e/f0/00/original_1git_galush.asf
Jon Eisenberg, lawyer of one of the force-fed Guantanamo detainees, said that the protesters don't want to die by their actions, but rather they want to be heard by President Obama.

“They want to be heard. They want to speak out against the force feeding. They want to be either tried or released.  President Obama himself as the commander-in-chief of the US, he has the power to stop it.  We’re hoping that he does,” Eisenberg told RT.

Video: /files/news/1e/5e/f0/00/original_1git_lawyer.asf

Doctor Frank Arnold of the Medact organization believes that GITMO medics are being negligent and abusive towards the detainees only because they're following orders from the military.

“The regime, which the joint task force for Guantanamo has written for the treatment of these people requires truly abusive care and also involves the use of medicines, which are dangerous,”
he stressed. “They aren’t allowed to behave like doctors and are compelled by the military hierarchy to behave like jailors.”

Video: /files/news/1e/5e/f0/00/original_1git_doct.asf
RT looks into how the controversial force-feeding procedure is being carried out at Guantanamo Bay. The US government says the procedure exists in order to prevent the deaths of prisoners, and that it is done in the most humane way possible. However, inmates describe force-feeding as “cruel punishment” which causes pain they have “never experienced” before.

Video: /files/news/1e/5e/f0/00/original_1git_feed.asf
Former Guantanamo prison guard Terry Holdbrooks told RT that a claim from one of the inmates that he and other prisoners are being sexually assaulted is highly feasible, because it’s a way for some the staff to retaliate against Muslims for the 9/11 attacks.   

“Korans would be either thrown in a toilet or thrown on the ground or mistreated in some other form. That happened often, and aggressive searches of detainee persons happened as well,” he said.

“There are soldiers in the Army, in the Navy, Air Force, Marines, etc., who think that if they kill an Arab, mistreat a Muslim, or abuse a detainee that it’s going to somehow balance the score for 9/11,” the former guard explained.

Video: /files/news/1e/5e/f0/00/original_1git_guard.asf

The hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay has entered its 150th day166 detainees are still being held at the prison, 106 of whom are on hunger strike. 45 prisoners are on enteral feeds, according to prison authorities.

In this photo reviewed by US military officials, detainees, whose names, nationalities, and facial identifications are not permitted, sit within the grounds of Camp Delta 4 military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba (Reuters / Brennan Linsley / Pool)

July 4

Younous Chekkouri who spent 11 years in Guantanamo accused the US military of sexually assaulting inmates under the guise of maintaining security.

“The searches, as they like to call them, are spreading fear and shame. Eight guards with the watch commander surround me in one room, while two of them put their hands all over me. The sexual assault hasn’t just happened to me. Why are they doing this? That’s what I’d like to know,” he said in a letter to his lawyer obtained by media.

July 3

While a mass hunger strike continues at Guantanamo, Navy Capt. Robert Durand confirmed that the prison camp is sufficiently equipped to synchronize the force-feeding of inmates to the Ramadan fast schedule. Capt. Durand’s comments were reported by the Miami Herald, while also noting that this will be the twelfth Ramadan in American captivity for most Guantánamo detainees. The fast is set to begin at sunset on Monday.

“We understand that observing the daytime fast and taking nothing by mouth or vein is an essential component of Muslim observance of Ramadan,” Durand said.

“And for those detainees on hunger strike we will ensure that our preservation of life through enteral feeding does not violate the tenets of their faith.”

Activists of Amnesty International stage a protest in Berlin's Potsdamer Platz against U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Berlin, June 19, 2013 (Reuters / Christian Ruettger)

July 2

Officials say that 106 detainees are still being tracked as hunger strikers, with 45 of those on the enteral feed list. Three of the detainees are being observed in the detainee hospital, one of which is on the enteral feed list. The detainees in the hospital do not currently have any life threatening conditions, according to Lt. Col. Samuel E. House.

July 1

Lawyers of four Guantanamo detainees filed a motion with the US district court in Washington to stop the force-feeding practice. The defense team claims that this practice is unethical and prevents their client from practicing their religion, guaranteed under the Geneva conventions. The prisoners have also attached affidavits stating that they understand the danger of hunger striking and do so voluntarily.

June 30

Guantanamo officials are still reporting that 106 of the 166 Guantanamo detainees are hunger striking. Two have now been hospitalized as a result of the strike. Officials report that neither of the two admitted on Saturday are in a life-threatening condition. 44 are still being force fed.

June 29

Guantanamo prison guards and medical staff are facing accusations that they deviated from procedure when treating detainees, contributing to an inmate's suicide in at least one case. 

Adnan Latif (Image from

Al Jazeera has obtained a copy of a US military report investigating the September 2012 suicide of Adnan Latif, a 31-year-old detainee who was incorrectly treated for a severe psychological disorder. The report's authors claim guards and medical staff at the prison camp chose not to follow the rules on handling difficult inmates.

Latif, a Yemeni national, was able to stockpile prescription medications in his cell as a result, the report says, which would have been impossible had prison staff stuck to protocol.

Before his detention Latif was seeking medical help for a head injury that had supposedly caused brain damage. He is also reported to have had "outstanding mental health issues," according to Al Jazeera.

Mark Mason, an anthropologist at the University of California, questions the fact that the President has enough power to launch drone strikes, but not enough to close Guantanamo.

Video: /files/news/1e/5e/f0/00/original_guantanamo.asf

June 28

As of Friday there are 106 out of 166 detainees on hunger strike, with 44 being forced-fed. There are currently no detainees being observed on the hospital, deputy director of Guantanamo public affairs Lieutenant Colonel, Samuel E. House told RT.  

June 26

An activist who has been protesting the continuous operation of the Guantanamo Bay military detention facility was arrested Wednesday after climbing over the fence on the north lawn of the White House.

Diane Wilson, a member of the activism group Code Pink, was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Washington, according to the organization’s official Twitter account.

June 25

105 detainees are now on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, the highest number the military has acknowledged since the protest began in February. Of those, 44 are being force-fed via a tube which has been pushed through the nasal cavity and down the esophagus to the stomach.

June 22

A 'stepping up' of attempts to quash the hunger strike has been exposed by a British inmate at the camp. He reported the introduction of metal-tipped tubes for force-feeding.

June 21

The hunger strike at Guantanamo will last until those inmates cleared for release leave, a lawyer working on several Guantanamo cases has told RT. All of Cori Crider’s clients object to being force-fed, she says.

Two feeding tubes and cans of Ensure are seen inside the detainee hospital inside Camp Delta, part of the US Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

The lawyer argues that an independent team of doctors should be allowed access to the detention facility to assess the prisoners’ mental health.

“None of our hunger striking clients trust the doctors. They tried again and again to raise these issues with the medical staff. They say, ‘I reject this feeding, I reject being medicated. Why are you involving yourself with this practice?’ And the military doctors just shrug and say ‘I just have to follow orders’, so yes I hope that the military and certainly the commander in chief will take the request seriously,” Crider said.

June 20

If the detainee hunger strike continues in Guantanamo, participants will most likely face irreversible organ damage and eventually death, Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist and consultant for Human Rights Watch told RT.

Force-feeding prisoners during a voluntary hunger strike is considered an abuse of the Hippocratic Oath, and also contradicts medical ethics. This aggravated assault will result in “permanent psychological damage,” Kupers warned.

June 19 

Over 150 doctors and medical professionals have signed an open letter to US President Barack Obama calling for the hunger-striking prisoners to receive independent medical care.

The letter, published in the Lancet medical journal, states that the detainees have "very good reason" not to trust the facility’s medical staff, who are required to follow the orders of their military commanders.

“Without trust, safe and acceptable medical care of mentally competent patients is impossible,” the letter said. “Since the detainees do not trust their military doctors, they are unlikely to comply with current medical advice. That makes it imperative for them to have access to independent medical examination and advice, as they ask, and as required by the UN and World Medical Association.”

June 19

US President Barack Obama has said that he still wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, but has been faced with resistance from Congress that has stifled his efforts.

“We cannot have a permanent outpost in which they are being held even as we are ending a war in Afghanistan that triggered the capture of some of these detainees in the first place,” Obama told a news conference in Berlin, held jointly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery in Berlin June 19, 2013 (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

“We must not be so driven by fear that we change the fabric of society in ways we don't intend and we do not want for the future. I think closing Guantanamo is an example of us getting out of that perpetual war mentality,” Obama said.

June 17

For the first time since President Obama took office Washington has publicly disclosed the names of inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp classified as “indefinite detainees” - those who pose too great a threat to release but cannot be tried in court.

Meanwhile, the US State Department is set to announce a new lawyer to oversee the closure of the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison facility. Cliff Sloan, a Washington lawyer, will take on the post, according to sources familiar with the decision. Sloan has previously served with all three branches of the government and worked on cases in both state and federal courts.

June 13

AFP Photo / Michelle Shephard

Doctors at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp should refuse to participate in the force-feeding of hunger strikers since such an activity is a political statement, not a medical condition argued Drs. George Annas, Sondra Crosby and Leonard Glantz in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

“Hunger striking is a peaceful political activity to protest terms of detention or prison conditions; it is not a medical condition, and the fact that hunger strikers have medical problems that need attention and can worsen does not make hunger striking itself a medical problem,” the senior professors from Boston University wrote.

Physicians stationed at Guantanamo Bay, the authors write, are sacrificing their ethical obligations by permitting the military to “use them and their medical skills for political purposes.”

June 9

Republican Senator and former prisoner of war John McCain said there is increasing domestic support to shut down the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and relocate the detainees to a facility within the continental United States. 

"There's renewed impetus. And I think that most Americans are more ready," McCain, who visited Guantanamo last week alongside White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, told CNN's "State of the Union" program.

McCain, a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham were working with the White House on plans which could see detainees transferred to a maximum-security prison in Illinois.

"We're going to have to look at the whole issue, including giving them more periodic review of their cases," McCain continued. 

June 7

President Obama‘s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, along with Senators Feinstein and McCain traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Friday to review the current situation and discuss steps towards closing the detention facility. Shortly after their tour concluded, the three released a statement, though it made no mention of the ongoing hunger strike now involving 104 of the 166 detainees, 41 of which are now being force-fed. “We intend to work, with a plan by Congress and the Administration together, to take the steps necessary to make that [closing] happen,” said the trio via statement.