Washington: More Guantanamo detainees have joined a growing hunger strike at the reviled US military prison, with nearly a third of the 166 war-on-terror suspects participating, a spokesman said.
AFPCaptain Robert Durand said that 52 detainees are refusing food, 15 of whom are being tube-fed by prison officials. That was up from 43 hunger strikers, including 11 receiving enteral feeds, on Friday.
Three of the detainees currently receiving enteral feeds are being observed in hospital, according to Durand. But they do not suffer from life-threatening conditions.
Attorneys representing inmates at the prison have said that most of the estimated 130 detainees at Guantanamo`s Camp Six wing, which houses "low-value" prisoners, are on hunger strike.
The strike began on February 6, when the men claimed prison officials searched their Korans for contraband. Officials have denied any mishandling of Islam`s holy book.
Lawyers say most of the hunger strikers are protesting their incarceration, without charge or trial, for the past 11 years.
Durand said a "new procedure" has been established to alert lawyers via the Justice Department when the Guantanamo commander approves tube-feeding a detainee.
"This procedure allows attorneys to be kept abreast of their client`s status and reduces the need for emergency phone calls each time the number changes," he explained.
An independent report by the Constitution Project released Tuesday condemned the practice of enteral feeding at Guantanamo.
"Forced feeding of detainees is a form of abuse and must end," it said.