Thursday, June 01, 2006

89 Guantanamo detainees on hunger strike

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - More Guantanamo Bay detainees protesting their indefinite confinement joined a hunger strike, raising the number to 89 from 75, the U.S. military said Thursday.
The military said the strike is an attempt to pressure the United States to release them, but a human rights attorney described it as a desperate appeal for justice.

Six of the hunger strikers at the isolated U.S. naval base in southeast Cuba were being force-fed, said Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand. That's two more than were being force-fed last weekend.

"All are being closely monitored by the ... medical staff and being counseled on the health effects of long-term hunger striking," Durand said in a statement from Guantanamo Bay.

The hunger strike is now the biggest of the year at the base, where about 460 men are being held on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

Military officials said the hunger strikers are trying to gain public sympathy to pressure the United States to release them. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith are among those who have recently called on the United States to close Guantanamo.

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