One of the strikers was taken to the prison hospital, Guantanamodetention center spokesperson Navy Capt. Robert Durand said Friday.Five others are being fed through tubes put through their nosesinto their stomachs, while eight others are not yet sufficientlymalnourished to merit such treatment, he said.Durand denied that the hunger strike is “a widespreadphenomenon, as alleged,” by the captives’ lawyers, and blamedthem of spreading “outright falsehoods and grossexaggerations.” He downplayed the reports of a mass strike atGitmo, saying that most of the alleged strikers are skippingregular meals, but substituting them with snacks.“Refusing prepared meals and choosing to subsist for a timeon snack foods does not constitute a hunger strike,” Durandsaid.Earlier, layers said most of the 130 prisoners held at Camp 6,where the majority of Gitmo’s 166 prisoners are incarcerated, aretaking part in a hunger strike. Fifty-one attorneys wrote Thursdayto Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel calling on him tointervene.The huge disparity in the numbers of strikers reported byGuantanamo staff and by the lawyers is explainable by the fact thatthe definition of a hunger striker is in the hand of authorities,said Pardiss Kebriaei from the Center Constitutional Rights, one ofthe complainant lawyers.“Our understanding is that based on previous standards thedetermination of who is a hunger striker is a discretionarydetermination that the Guantanamo makes,” she told RT. “Ifthe definition of a hunger striker is entirely in their control andis a matter of their discretion, then I think that explains howthey are able to say that there are no more than a handful of menon hunger strike.”Tensions in the notorious prison, where the US detains terrorsuspects, apparently started last month after a new rotation of USArmy soldiers took over guard duties from a Navy force. Someprisoners complained to their layers of aggressive searches, whichincluded confiscations of personal items and handling of Koransthat the inmates found sacrilegious, as most are devoutMuslims.Durand confirmed the reports that some of the detainees hadtheir Korans taken from them, but called it an attempt atmanipulation: “If we accept their Koran, it would be portrayedas either an admission that it required protection and safekeeping,or as a confiscation by the guard force, depriving them of thereligious articles needed to practice their faith.”He also insisted that all searches are conducted in a regularway, and that no mistreatment of Muslim holy books has taking placeat Gitmo.“I am not clear if the spokesperson for Guantanamounderstands exactly what the problem is here. ‘Mishandling’ doesnot mean burning the book or ripping out pages. It means touchingthe Koran and searching the Koran by their jailers,” Kebriaeisaid.The US facility at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay is among the darkestlegacies of the post-9/11 ‘War on Terror.’ Many detainees there arebeing held in legal limbo without trial. Half of the prisoners havebeen cleared for release, but still remain in custody.The scarcity of information about the development is partiallydue to the secrecy maintained by the prison. The communicationbarriers in place have been an obstacle for human rightsorganizations for years, Rob Freer of Amnesty International toldRT.“We have to wait until a detainee is released, before we canspeak to them. This leads to underreporting on individual detaineecases and at least to a time lag. The lawyers themselves are notthere the whole time and it requires declassification of certaininformation when they do get to,” he said.President Barack Obama promised to shut down the notoriousprison at the start of his first term in office, but failed todeliver.
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