The unrest at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (a/k/a Gitmo) that has seen brutal force feeding of hunger strikers exploded this weekend as detainees staged a rebellion armed with broomsticks and batons. From AP:
Months of increased tension at the Guantanamo Bay prison boiled over into a clash between guards and detainees Saturday as the military closed a communal section of the facility and moved its inmates into single cells.
The violence erupted during an early morning raid that military officials said was necessary because prisoners had covered up security cameras and windows as part of a weekslong protest and hunger strike over their indefinite confinement and conditions at the U.S. base in Cuba.
Prisoners fought guards with makeshift weapons that included broomsticks and mop handles when troops arrived to move them out of a communal wing of the section of the prison known as Camp 6, said Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a military spokesman. Guards responded by firing four “less-than-lethal rounds,” he said…
The reasons for the hunger strike are in dispite. The New York Times reported that:
Detainee lawyers and military officials also disagree about the catalyst for the hunger strike. The lawyers say their clients told them that the guard force had recently become stricter about living conditions and had conducted a search for contraband in early February that involved looking through prisoners’ Korans, which they considered to be desecration.
The military acknowledged that it conducted that search but said it did so under longstanding procedures, whereby a translator — who is Muslim — handles the Islamic book, not the guards. Military spokesmen have accused the detainees of manufacturing claims of Koran abuse and orchestrating the hunger strike to win attention from the news media.
Carlos Warner, a federal public defender in Ohio who represents several Guantánamo detainees, criticized the guards’ action on Saturday.
“This is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing,” he said. “As of last week, the strike would end if they allowed the men to surrender the Koran. Instead, the military is escalating the conflict.”
Several weeks ago, Captain Durand, the prison spokesman, said in an interview that the military would not accept the detainees’ offer to take away their Korans instead of periodically searching them…
[continues in New York Times]