Driven By Despair, More Guantánamo Detainees Join Hunger Strike

May 2, 2013

Camp X-Ray in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
Credit Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy

Last Friday, Carlos Warner called one of his 11 clients in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and offered to help negotiate the end of a hunger strike that detainees are holding. But the client, Fayiz al Kandari, declined his offer, and asked why the U.S. Army will not talk directly to them.

In this interview on The Story with Dick Gordon, Warner says the living conditions at the detention facility have deteriorated since the U.S. Navy handed control to the Army, that detainees have been pepper sprayed and shot with rubber bullets, and that the protests could have been prevented if someone had spoken directly with detainees.

As many as 130 detainees have gone on hunger strike since Feb. 6, Warner says. The initial spark for the protest, he says, was that authorities handled the inmates' Korans in a disrespectful way, but there is a deeper cause: the men, some of whom have been held for more than 11 years without trial, are convinced they will never go home. According to Warner, eighty-six of them have been cleared for release, yet they remain.

"They're ready to die because of the hopelessness of this situation," Warner says. "They realized they were going to die in Guantánamo with nobody watching, and they want to die peacefully."

Hear the full conversation at The Story's site. Also in this show: an essay from Samir Nahi al Hasan Moqbel, a detainee on hunger strike in Guantánamo Bay; George Bien, a Hungarian who was sent to a Soviet prison camp in Siberia; and Ivette Cepeda, a celebrated Cuban singer who is bringing her music to the U.S.