Official: Immigration detainees end hunger strike in Alabama

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2015 11:55 AM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Immigration detainees at a holding center in Alabama have ended a hunger strike started last month to protest conditions, the government said Friday, but some detainees still aren't eating at other facilities nationwide.

The final eight Alabama protesters had eaten Wednesday night at the Etowah County jail, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said. There, as many as 46 people participated in the hunger strike at its peak.

The agency said 19 detainees still weren't eating as of Thursday night at five facilities nationwide, but activists publicizing the demonstration said 39 detainees still were refusing food.

More than 100 detainees at about 10 ICE facilities nationwide began the strike Nov. 25 to protest conditions and lengthy detentions.

The New York-based Desis Rising Up and Moving organization, which publicized the demonstration, said all the strikers came to the United States seeking asylum but have been held in detention for as long as 23 months. The detainees demanded improved conditions and an end to indefinite detention.

A federal judge authorized officials to force-feed one of the Alabama detainees last week because of deteriorating health, but Cox said officials didn't have to take that step on anyone.

A spokeswoman for a group publicizing the protest, Lucia Hermo, said the threat of being force fed apparently was enough to stop the demonstration in Alabama.

"Due to the force feeding order, I believe the detainees decided to end the strike," she said.

ICE said it does not retaliate against hunger strikers but monitors the food and water consumption of anyone refusing to eat.