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Guantanamo hunger strikers hospitalised
September 15, 2005 - 5:39AM

Three more detainees have been taken to hospital after refusing meals at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This brings to 21 the number being treated from a hunger strike that involves a quarter of the camp's prisoners, an official said.

In Australia, David McLeod, a lawyer for Adelaide-born Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, said his client was not among the hunger strikers.

All 21 detainees were being tube-fed through their nose, up from 13 a day ago, said Sergeant Justin Behrens, a spokesman at Guantanamo.

The military has said it views a hunger strike as a form of suicide and will take steps to prevent it.

All striking detainees were in stable condition, Behrens said.

"The medical staff normally makes checks every day and if they feel (a detainee) needs to go to the hospital, they take them there," he said.

The military has said the hunger strike began on August 8 with 76 detainees refusing meals. Yesterday, the military said the number had risen to 128.

Detainees are classified as being on hunger strike after missing nine straight meals, Behrens said.

The spokesman said three detainees quit the protest yesterday, bringing the number of prisoners taking part in the protest to 125.

The figure differed from one given in an August 31 report from the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, which claimed 210 prisoners were refusing meals.

The centre, which has filed legal challenges on behalf of detainees, said some prisoners were prepared to starve to death unless they were put on trial or released.

The centre said the prisoners were angry because the military allegedly reneged on promises to bring the prison into compliance with the Geneva Conventions if prisoners agreed to end a hunger strike that began in June.

The military has denied it reneged on any promises.

It says detainees have chosen representatives to meet with military officials about living conditions at the camp.

There are about 500 detainees from around the world held at the remote base on Cuba's eastern tip.

They are accused of ties to the al-Qaida terror network or Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime.

Most have been held for more than three years and none have been charged.

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