Things aren't going so well down at Guantanamo Bay. A few days after The New York Times published a rather arresting column written by an inmate staging a hunger strike, 25 percent more prisoners have joined the protest. The latest report from United States officials puts the number of inmates on hunger strike at 84 — there are 166 total inmates at Guantanamo — with at least 17 of them, including the author of the Times column, being force fed. The number of prisoners participating is up by 32 since last Wendesday and has continued to increase over the weekend.
The hunger strike dates back to February 6, when a group of prisoners took action against prison guards they say desecrated the Koran. It didn't help that some of the prisoners have been locked up for over a decade without having received a trial or even been formally charged with a crime. On top of that, news emerged about a week after the hunger strike started that the supposedly private rooms where inmates meet with their lawyers had been bugged illegally. Guantanamo officials swear they never used the surveillance equipment, but that didn't do anything to improve prisoner-guard relations. Last month, a stand-off between prisoners and guards even led to gunfire, though nobody was killed.