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Guantanamo Hunger Strike Takes A Serious Turn

based on a report from Aljazeera. October 7, 2005

A hunger strike by prisoners at the US Guantanamo Bay prison camp has entered a serious stage, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

But ICRC chief spokeswoman Antonella Notari declined to comment on Thursday's statement by a defence lawyer that the hunger strike involved 200 of 500 prisoners and that 21 were being force-fed.

The humanitarian agency, which last visited the US naval base in Cuba in late September, was in contact with the US authorities about the situation, Notari said on Friday.

"There is a hunger strike, the situation is serious, and we are following it with concern," Notari said.

"During our recent 10-day visit we were able to visit the infirmary, see the detainees and speak with them as well as the American authorities," she added.

Amnesty International and human-rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, representing 40 detainees, said on Thursday that US authorities were keeping 21 alive by forcing food into their stomachs through tubes pushed up their noses.

The prisoners are shackled to their beds 24-hours a day to stop them removing the tubes, he said.

The US opened the prison camp in January 2002. Many detainees were seized in Afghanistan. Only four have been charged and many have been held for more than three years. Some former prisoners say they were tortured while in Guantanamo.

You have been reading excerpts from "Serious turn to Guantanamo protest" from Aljazeera. You can read the entire piece here: tinyurl.com/74sta. We read english.aljazeera.net often and we hope you will too.

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