The military said in a statement released on Friday, that 99 of the 102 inmates listed as being on hunger strike had eaten a hot meal in the previous 24 hours.
A spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Lt. Col. Samuel House, said he did not know what may have prompted the change. He also added that the hunger strikers “were not officially considered to have ended their protest because the military requires a minimum caloric intake over several days.” He said, “I cannot speculate on what their intent is. In my mind, it is not over.”
Over the last week, in what some are saying may be a sign that the hunger strike may be “winding down,” the number of detainees being allowed to return to communal living quarters has increased “from 40 up to 100,” according to House. It is a condition of the prison that to be allowed to live communally detainees “so not go on hunger strike.”
House explained that, “If an individual detainee chooses to hunger-strike, for their own safety they are moved back into single cell.”
Although a significant number of the prisoners have eaten in the last 24 hours, there are still 45 men on the list of those being force-fed.
Attorneys for the detainees are “skeptical” that the strike is ending, asserting that “it was possible for detainees to take on some nutrients without terminating their strike.”
Wells Dixon, an attorney for an Algerian detainee who has been on a hunger strike since 2008 said, “[I] would be surprised if [my] client had decided to end his protest.” Dixon pointed out that “eating an occasional meal doesn’t mean that you are not on a hunger strike.” He said that he will “remain very skeptical” until his client tells him he is no longer participating in the hunger strike himself. Dixon also added that, “The hunger strike in his case is driven by complete and utter desperation. This is not a political stunt.”
Another attorney for a Guantanamo detainee, Jon Eisenberg, agrees with Dixon. He said, “One meal does not mean the end of the hunger strike or the end of force-feeding.”