The number of prisoners currently on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay has reached 100, forcing the United States to send 40 nurses and medical specialists to the detention center to monitor the situation over the weekend. Of those on strike, 21 are being force-fed. The inmates, many of whom are held without charge, are protesting their detention with the hunger strike, which began in February.
Although such actions are frequent at Guantanamo, the current protest is one of the longest and most widespread.
Guantanamo officials deny claims that the strike began after copies of the Koran were mishandled during searches of prisoners' cells.
Violence erupted at the prison on April 13th as the authorities moved inmates out of communal cell blocks where they had covered surveillance cameras and windows.
Some prisoners used "improvised weapons" and were met with "less-than-lethal rounds", camp officials said, but no serious injuries were reported.
Nearly 100 of the detainees have reportedly been cleared for release but remain at the facility because of restrictions imposed by Congress and also concerns of possible mistreatment if they are sent back to their home countries.
During a White House press conference on Tuesday, President Obama said he will renew his first-term efforts to close the detention center. Obama reasoned that the existence of the facility damages the country’s image abroad, costs too much money and undermines U.S. counterterrorism efforts by serving as a recruiting tool for militants.
“I’m going to go back at this,” he said. “I’m going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that’s in the best interests of the American people.”