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Prisoners on hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay are now being denied water among other abuses as prison guards attempt to force them off the strike, the prisoners’ lawyers said Wednesday.

Several of the prisoners’ lawyers have filed an emergency motion in a federal court in Washington saying guards are refusing to provide drinking water to the hunger strikers and have kept camp temperatures “extremely frigid” in an effort to “to thwart the protest.”

“The reality is that these men are slowly withering away and we as a country need to take immediate action,” said Mari Newman, a human rights lawyer based in Denver, who was among those who submitted the motion.

 The lawyers said that the prisoners’ lack of drinkable water has “already caused some prisoners kidney, urinary and stomach problems,” in addition to the health effects of the hunger strike.

Lawyers have said that the majority of the 166 men held at Guantanamo have joined the hunger strike, while many are now suffering severe health risks from the lack of sustenance. U.S. military officials have refused to admit to these numbers, however, and continuously report to the media significantly lower numbers.

The reports arrive as a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross began a fact-finding investigation in regards to the hunger strike at the U.S. base in Cuba.

In an interview with RT a spokesperson for the Red Cross, Simon Schorno, stated: “What I can tell you is that from our observations those tensions and this anguish that the detainees are experiencing are clearly related to the lack of a clear legal framework in Guantanamo. This has now been having a real impact for detainees for some time – on their mental health, on their emotional health.” 

However, Red Cross findings will not officially be made public, AP reports.


Jacob Chamberlain is a staff writer with Common Dreams, where this article originally appeared. It is reprinted here with permission. 

Photo: casmaron/Flickr