US President Barack Obama vowed to close Guantánamo prison on Tuesday, stating that he did not want any of the hunger-striking inmates to die of starvation.
The prison witnessed a widening hunger strike involving at least 100 inmates, while some of them were being force fed.
The hunger strike had begun on February 6 when guards mistreated the Holy Qurans. However, the strike come to symbolize broader protests against the camp’s existence, mainly because most of the inmates are still detained there without charge.
Obama stressed that he would seek again to close the detention camp, fulfilling a broken promise from his first run for the White House in 2008.
“I am going to go back at this. I am going to get my team to review everything that is currently being done in Guantánamo. I am going to re-engage with Congress to try and make the case that [Guantánamo] is not in the best interests of the American people”, he stated.
Two weeks ago, guards moved those refusing food from communal areas to singlecells. That consequently led to violent clashes in which US guards fired four “less-than-lethal” rounds on inmates.
There are about 166 inmates at Guantánamo, of whom about half have been cleared for transfer or release. Nearly all inmates have been held without charge.
“The president can order the secretary of defense to start certifying for transfer detainees who have been cleared, which is more than half the Guantánamo population”, said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Closing Guantánamo is not an easy task, however, especially after the emotional trauma Americans witnessed from the recent Boston Marathon bombings.
Source: News Agencies