A guide to hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay
The camp's first strike started in late January 2002 and peaked at 150 detainees, roughly the entire camp population at the time. The strike started over allegations of Quran mistreatment and ended in early February when officials apologized.
Detainees present officials with a nine-point list of demands, chief among which was bringing the camp in line with the Geneva Conventions. In response, officials promised to address the issues and allowed the creation of a detainee council to represent detainees to administrators. These measures ended the strike, but it resumed weeks later when officials disbanded the council and failed to follow the principles of the Geneva Conventions.
Adbul Rahman Shalabi, a Saudi detainee suspected of — but never charged with — being a bodyguard for Osama Bin Laden, launches a hunger strike to protest camp conditions. He will become the camp's longest hunger striker and remains on strike today. He has been diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition where the stomach cannot properly empty food.
Accounts differ, but between 42 and 70 detainees launch a hunger strike apparently to gain awareness around President Barack Obama's first inauguration. A letter at the time from detainee Oybek Jabbarov to his lawyer reads in part:
"Please don't bring any nutrients or drinks. Because I can't eate [sic] or drink anything besides natural air." — Jan. 26
Further alleged mistreatment and searches of Qurans leads to one of the most significant strikes in the camp's history, which is on-going to this day. The strike peaked in June at 106 out of approximately 168 detainees and resulted in dozens and dozens of force-feedings — a practice international groups have condemned. The strike lost momentum after the start of the holy month of Ramadan in July.