The military has said this week that at least four Guantanamo Bay detainees have ended their hunger strike, reducing the total number of hunger strikers, according to Gitmo authorities, to 102 of the 166 detainees. However, 45 are “on the enteral feed list,” and thus face the possibility of being force-fed through a tube.
Prison authorities announced this week that detainees not on hunger strike living in Guantanamo’s Camp Six, where most of the detainees are housed, are allowed to return to communal living. Gitmo’s commander ordered Camp Six detainees into single-living cells back in April after clashes between guards and detainees.
Some detainee lawyers have suggested that easing restrictions on detainees, including allowing them to return to communal living, may cause some to end their hunger strike. But one, David Remes, cautions about what the new numbers may mean.
“It could either mean that the men have some sense that the authorities are relenting and moving in the right direction,” he told ThinkProgress. “Or it could be that the military is playing with the numbers through manipulation of the definition of a hunger striker; or it could mean that the military has succeeded in breaking the will of some of the men, you just can’t tell by looking at the bare numbers.”
A federal judge on Thursday also ruled that Gitmo authorities are not allowed to search detainees’ genitals before meetings with their attorneys, saying that it amounted to an “exaggerated response” to security concerns.
“The choice between submitting to a search procedure that is religiously and culturally abhorrent or foregoing counsel effectively presents no choice for devout Muslims like petitioners,” U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth wrote.
The Washington Post reports that “[l]awyers for detainees had argued that the motivation for the search procedure was not to enhance security but to isolate detainees from their attorneys in an effort to crush a growing hunger strike at the base.”
Remes, who represented one of the detainees in the case, said that he doesn’t know whether the detainees are aware of the ruling. “My understanding was that the men were in isolation cells and didn’t have access to media anymore and besides it only happened yesterday afternoon.”
Editor’s note: The first paragraph of this post has been updated to more accurately portray what the military describes as the “enteral feed list.”