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Guantanamo hunger strike numbers soar says prisoner

Guantanamo hunger strike numbers soar says prisoner
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A hunger strike at the US prison camp at Guantanamo has grown to include 130 of the 166 inmates, according to the lawyer for one of the prisoners.

Clive Stafford Smith says he has been told by his client Shaker Aamer that camp officials have been trying to break the hunger strike without success.

The US Defense Department said just under 40 prisoners are refusing food and 11 are being force fed after the latest hunger strike started seven weeks ago.

Concerned by events there, the International Committee of the Red Cross recently brought forward a scheduled visit to the camp by a doctor. The ICRC does not comment publicly on its findings at the camp.

Hunger strikes have flared up several times at Guantanamo since it opened in January 2002 to hold men captured in counter-terrorism operations after the September 11 attacks.

Military officers, human rights monitors and lawyers representing the prisoners have said it reflects frustration at the failure to resolve their fate.

Most have been held for 11 years without charge and more than half have been cleared for transfer or release.

However the US Congress has made it increasingly difficult to release them and Washington will not send some back to their homelands – the majority are from Yemen – because of instability or concerns over mistreatment. Other countries are reluctant to accept them for resettlement when the US itself will not take any.

The failure of President Barack Obama to close Guantanamo – as promised by 2010 – has sparked many demonstrations in the US and on Monday there were protests outside the US embassies in the Yemeni capital Sana’a and Kuwait City.

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