200 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are on hunger strike, according to a lawyer representing a number of clients at the base.
Clive Stafford Smith, who returned from Guantamo a week ago, told an audience at the Greenbelt Christian Festival in Cheltenham: 'The world needs to know that these guys are going to die in the next two to three weeks. They are starving themselves to death.'
Smith warned that many detainees intend to starve themselves to death after the US military reneged on a deal promising improvements to living conditions.
It is the second time in two months the prisoners have gone on hunger strike. The initial strike ended at the end of July, after seven detainees were hospitalized. About 180 of the camp’s 500-plus detainees were involved in this initial effort, according to two prisoners released in July.
The second hunger strike began nearly three weeks ago but the story has only just been declassified by the US military.
Smith's notes reveal that his client Binyam Mohammed, a British refugee from Ethiopia, told him on 11 August that some 210 of the detainees had resumed the hunger strike.
'They have betrayed our trust,' Mohammed says. ''Therefore the strike must begin again. Some have already begun. . . . I do not plan to stop until either I die or we are respected. People will definitely die.
'We ask only for justice: treat us, as promised, under the rules of the Geneva Conventions for Civilian Prisoners while we are held, and either try us fairly for a valid criminal charge or set us free.'
Smith has worked on death penalty cases in the US for 21 years, representing some 300 prisoners in defence of their lives. He now works as legal director of Reprieve, a London-based human rights charity, and has spent the past three years building a coalition of lawyers providing legal assistance to prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.