Currently, between 100 and 130 of the remaining 166 prisoners in Guantanamo bay are on a hunger strike. Some have been force fed in order to keep them alive. The process involves shackling the individual and feeding them through a tube inserted in their nose. The protest is over alleged mishandling of the Koran by guards, but is fueled by a deeper frustration of indefinite detention.
In a press conference Tuesday, President Obama said, “I continue to believe that we’ve got to close Guantanamo.” He added that “Congress determined that they would not let us close it.”
In 2009 Obama did issue an executive order to close the prison. However, following 2009 events in Yemen, the Obama administration decided to halt all repatriation of detainees to the country. This has resulted in 56 detainees who were approved for transfer still residing in Guantanamo.
Also in 2009, the Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 which blocked funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at Guantanamo. Again in the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill, restrictions were placed on the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to the mainland U.S. or foreign countries.
Another hurdle facing efforts to close the facility is the chance of recidivism. In 2011, there were 167 ex-detainees are “confirmed” or “suspected” of reengaging in “terrorist or insurgent activities after release. This reflects 27.9% of the 599 detainees that had been transferred or released. While there seems to be a renewed push to close the prison, the question of where to put its residents remains to be answered.
The Washington Post, Obama Vows a New Effort to Close Guantanamo Bay Prison: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2013/04/30/60eca3a6-b1a0-11e2-9a98-4be1688d7d84_story.html
The Washington Post, Guantanamo Bay Detainees and Military Clash; Hunger Strike Continues: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/military-tries-to-end-guantanamo-bay-hunger-strike/2013/04/13/6cbf9b8c-a469-11e2-82bc-511538ae90a4_story.html
Amnesty International, Guantanamo Bay: http://www.amnesty.org.au/hrs/comments/2218/
AlterNet, 6 Horrifying Facts Every American Should Know About Guantanamo Bay and the Ongoing Hunger Strike: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/6-horrifying-facts-every-american-should-know-about-guantanamo-bay-and-ongoing?akid=10381.221508.2qzNrE&rd=1&src=newsletter833011&t=4
The New York Times, Obama Is Asked to Reconsider Repatriation of Yemenis: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/us/obama-is-asked-to-reconsider-repatriation-of-yemenis.html?_r=0
CNN, Obama Signs Order to Close Guantanamo Bay Facility: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/22/guantanamo.order/
The New York Times, Later Terror Link Cited for 1 in 7 Freed Detainees: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/us/politics/21gitmo.html
The Long War Journal, Latest Gitmo Recidivist Statistics Released: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/03/latest_gitmo_recidiv.php