Guantanamo Bay detention camp

Guantanamo bay prisoners on hunger strike over Korans

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 4:39am

Prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay camp have launched a hunger strike to protest at interference with their personal effects, including Korans, their lawyers and prison officials said.

"My client and other men have reported that most of the detainees in Camp 6 are on strike, except for a small few who are elderly or sick," said Pardiss Kebriaei, the lawyer for Yemeni prisoner Ghaleb Al-Bihani.

Camp 6 houses the majority of the 166 people still incarcerated at Guantanamo - estimated at about 130 men - who are not regarded as a particular risk.

Robert Durand, director of public affairs for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said on Monday that nine detainees were engaged in hunger strikes, five of whom were being forcibly fed through tubes.

According to Kebriaei, her client - on hunger strike for 30 days - has "lost over 20 pounds and has been told by medical personnel that his health is in serious danger as he is also a diabetic".

The commander of Guantanamo, Rear Admiral John Smith, rejected suggestions that prisoners' copies of the Koran had been mistreated.

"No JTF-Guantanamo guard touches any detainee's Koran at any time. The Koran is treated with the utmost respect," he said.