A hunger strike by inmates at the notorious US - run Guantanamo prison protesting their harsh conditions and indefinite detention without charge or trial has entered its seventh month.
A large number of prisoners are still refusing to eat as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is coming to an end. The strike began in early February with most of the detainees joining the protest at its peak. The US military which has been force-feeding the hunger strikers refused to halt the practice even during the holy month of Ramadan. Many rights activists have described the practice as torturous. 166 prisoners remain in indefinite detention without charge or trial in the prison. Several human rights groups including the United Nation’s Human Rights Council have criticized the US government for its failure to shut down the notorious prison. “The continuing indefinite detention of many of these individuals amounts to arbitrary detention, in breach of international law,” said United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay in late May. More than a decade into the ordeal the detainees have been going through, the camp’s chief recently said the jail should have never been built. US Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Detainee Affairs William Lietzau said on August 3 that the inmates should have been labeled as Prisoners of War. Lietzau, a key figure in creating the prison during the George W. Bush era, added that the prisoners should have been held in Afghanistan and sent to American prisons after being charged. The Guantanamo architect also expressed regret over the miseries the inmates have been suffering. The Pentagon official in charge of the prison in the past three and a half years made the U-turn just a week after announcing he was stepping down.