U.S. military officials announced that it was no longer necessary to issue daily updates on the hunger strike taking place among inmates at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, The New York Times reported, because participation had “dropped significantly.”
The statement on Monday signaled an effective end to the controversial six-month-long protest that sparked humanitarian concerns, and a renewed push for President Obama to close the facility, as he had promised to do five years ago. Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, the president once again reiterated that commitment.
“We are transferring detainees to other countries and trying terrorists in courts of law, while working diligently to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,” said Obama.
At its peak in July, 106 of the 166 prisoners who were then at Gitmo were listed as participants. That number has since dropped to 19, according to the military.
Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the drop-off in participation was due in large part to the protest’s success.
“It turned the national attention back to Guantánamo, got the attention of the president to recommit himself to closing the base,” said Warren to NewsNation Tuesday, noting that two detainees had recently been transferred from the prison to Algeria in just the last few weeks.
But because of Congressional obstruction, he said, “at this rate, it’ll take a decade to close the base.”
“The eyes of the country need to stay focused on this problem,” said Warren. “The problem does not go away even if the hunger strike is largely done.”