Red Cross examines Gitmo hunger strike

2013-03-27T00:00:00Z Red Cross examines Gitmo hunger strikeCarol Rosenberg The Miami Herald Arizona Daily Star
March 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Two delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross, one of them a physician, are at Guantanamo this week in an accelerated trip moved up from next month to check out the ongoing hunger strike at the war-on-terror prison.

Red Cross spokesman Simon Schorno said Tuesday that the regularly scheduled two-week mission was to have started April 1.

"However, in an an effort to better understand current tensions and the ongoing hunger strike, we have decided to start this visit one week earlier," said Schorno.

As of Monday, the Pentagon considered 28 of 166 captives to meet the criteria to be considered hunger strikers. Ten were being fed nutritional supplements mostly through tubes snaked up a captive's nose and into his stomach.

Of the 10, three were hospitalized, receiving intravenous drips for rehydration as well as the tube feedings, Navy Capt. Robert Durand said Monday from Guantanamo.

The Red Cross spokesman attributed tensions in the camp to ongoing uncertainty about the status of the vast majority of detainees.

Only six are facing trials by military commission. About 90 of the captives have been cleared for release by an Obama-era task force but remain at the detention center due to a combination of congressional restrictions and political instability in their own countries that has stalled repatriations.

In addition, different agencies of the federal government are still working on setting up parole-style hearings for the captives, called periodic review boards.

The Pentagon and lawyers for the prisoners dispute how widespread the hunger strike is, and when it started.

The Red Cross is unlikely to help resolve the disagreement because of a policy that keeps confidential conversations with the host country it visits, in this case the United States, which controls the corner of southeast Cuba where the prison is located.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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