Daily Video

April 23, 2013

Prisoners Stop Eating to Protest Detention

Watch Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strike Grows as Prisoners Refuse Food on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Although President Obama signed an executive order to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay shortly after his first inauguration in 2009, 166 captives are still detained there, many without ever being charged with a crime or standing trial. Of those, 86 prisoners have been cleared for release, but remain in captivity because of legal questions on where to release them.

The Guantanamo Bay prison was established in 2002 as a place to detain suspects allegedly connected to foreign terrorism.

Now, more than half of the prisoners have gone on a hunger strike to protest their detentions. In order to keep some of the striking prisoners from starving to death, the U.S. military has begun force-feeding some of them.

“These are the feeding tubes that we use whenever it is determined at a very high level that somebody has reached that point in the hunger striking,” said an American Naval medical officer, “Everyone is allowed to hunger strike; that is their right to protest. But if somebody gets to that point where they need additional medical care or it’s reached the point where it’s threatening their life, that’s where the decision is made way above me to step in.”

The prisoners have been striking since February, and say they object to their living conditions and to guards’ alleged mishandling of the Islamic holy book, the Koran.

Warm up questions

1. What do you know about Guantanamo Bay?

2. What rights do prisoners have?

3. What is a hunger strike? Why might someone do a hunger strike?

Discussion questions

1. What did you find most interesting about this video?

2. What do you think the prisoners hope to achieve with this strike? What makes a strike successful?

3. Do you think the prison guards should have the right to force-feed striking prisoners? Why or why not?

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