Hunger Strike Grows at Guantanamo Bay The hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba is growing, with at least 75 detainees now refusing food. Madeleine Brand speaks with Carol Rosenberg, a reporter for the Miami Herald, about what has sparked the hunger strike and how it's being dealt with.
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Hunger Strike Grows at Guantanamo Bay

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Hunger Strike Grows at Guantanamo Bay

Hunger Strike Grows at Guantanamo Bay

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.


And I'm Madeleine Brand. There are more hunger strikers at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. About 75 prisoners are now refusing food. The latest hunger strikers join three men who've gone without food for nearly nine months. Joining us is Carol Rosenberg. She's a reporter for the Miami Herald, and she covers Guantanamo. And first of all, how long have all these prisoners, the 75 prisoners - how long have they been on a hunger strike?

Ms. CAROL ROSENBERG (Reporter, Miami Herald): They would have started Thursday, Thursday overnight, because the military doesn't declare somebody on a hunger strike until they've skipped nine consecutive meals.

BRAND: And why are they doing it? Have they said?

Ms. ROSENBERG: The military says they're trying to get attention, that they are trying to, you know, give the U.S. military detention operation a bad name. The, one of the lawyers for these guys says that this is about the only form of protest that they have. Their rights are limited down there, that most of them have not been charged with any crime, and this is one of the ways to exercise an individual liberty, by refusing to eat.

BRAND: And reporters aren't allowed to talk with them, I understand.

Ms. ROSENBERG: Yeah, I've been doing this story for four years, and I've never spoken to a prisoner.

BRAND: Hmm. So, the attorneys have not had a chance to meet with their clients.

Ms. ROSENBERG: It's going to take some time to get it out, because the attorneys have to get down there. They have to be the right lawyers, meeting with the right hunger strikers, and having an opportunity to get the information out.

BRAND: And how effective, you say this is their only way of speaking out, or their attorneys say this is their only way of protesting. How effective are these hunger strikes?

Ms. ROSENBERG: Nobody's died there. The military spends a lot of time trying to portray this is a humane necessity of the war on terror, and the hunger strikes have been off and on now for four and a half years, and it's one of the things we hear about to keep Guantanamo in the front, sort of, of people's mind. So the fact that they do it, I guess, does draw attention to all sorts of related issues to what America is doing holding these people under what kind of international law.

BRAND: Right. You write about it, we interview you, and it becomes news.

Ms. ROSENBERG: Well, and actually, the military got ahead of this yesterday. On Memorial Day, they put out an announcement that the hunger strikers were up to 75, so they are trying, I think, to get ahead of the story and create their own narrative.

BRAND: There are military tribunals coming up in June. Would the hunger strike be timed to coincide with that?

Ms. ROSENBERG: That's the military's theory. The military says that a bunch of reporters and lawyers and international observers are going to be going down there mid-June for the latest pretrial hearings, and that the detainees know this, and that they're timing their hunger strike to get attention from the international community when they go down there.

BRAND: Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg. Thank you very much.

Ms. ROSENBERG: Thank you.

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