42 Guantanamo Detainees Now On Hunger Strike

In the last week, the number of Guantanamo detainees on hunger strikes has risen to from 34 to 42. There are about 250 detainees in all. Possible reasons for the increase, according to the Pentagon: Obama's inauguration and the Jan. 11 anniversary of the opening of Gitmo.

As of last Friday, 25 of the detainees were being force-fed.

US military authorities said forced feedings begin after a detainee either has gone three weeks without a meal, has fallen below 85 percent of his ideal body weight, or if a doctor has recommended it as a medical necessity to preserve an inmate's life.

The Administration defends the force-feeding. The ACLU vociferously disagrees and condemns the force-feeding as inhumane: [More...]

The unlawful force-feeding procedure requires that guards and medical professionals strap the detainee "into a chair, Velcro his head to a metal restraint, then tether a tube into the man's stomach through his nose to pump in liquid nourishment twice a day."3 Two of the striking detainees have been force-fed through tubes in their noses since August 2005. One of these detainees, Imad Hassan, a thirty-year old Yemeni, has been fed through a tube periodically for the last three years and suffers from digestive and pancreatic problems, among other severe health issues.

....Debilitating risks of force-feeding include major infections, pneumonia and collapsed lungs....
Force-feeding is universally considered to be a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The aforementioned 2006 United Nations report authoritatively declares that the manner in which detainees are force-fed and the ethics and legality of the practice of force-feeding, regardless of the manner in which it is undertaken, are matters of grave and distinct human rights concerns. The report additionally stated that the confirmed force-feeding of detainees on hunger strike amounted to torture as defined in Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which the United States ratified in 1994.

To date, 5 detainees have committed suicide.

A 2006 joint report submitted by five independent human rights experts of the United Nations Human Rights Council (formerly the Commission on Human Rights) found that the mistreatment of detainees at Guantánamo has had profound and long-term mental effects on many of them and that conditions of confinement have led to individual and mass suicide attempts, widespread and prolonged hunger strikes and over 350 acts of self-harm in 2003 alone.

It's not enough to enter an executive order for the closure of Guantanamo unless it contains a date for the closure in the very near future. Declaring an intent to close the facility or ordering a study of the best way to close it is not the same as closing it. It's also not enough.

It's time to:

  • Send home those who can go home
  • Secure safe haven for those who cannot, and
  • Charge those who can be charged and try them in ordinary federal criminal court.
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  • Display: Sort:
    I agree Jeralyn. (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by lilburro on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 09:55:56 PM EST
    End this now.  Other countries are willing to help us.  Let's take advantage of their goodwill and turn the page quickly.

    Flashback (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Upstart Crow on Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 11:12:44 PM EST
    Your picture brings back painful memories for me. I've had this done -- and believe me, shoving a tube down your nose into your stomach is a painful and shocking business.

    I doubt it was done to this man as sensitively as my doctor tried to administer the procedure to me.  

    Being fed this way is a humiliating business.

    I don't know where the line of 'torture' begins, but this picture, and the memory of living this way, for several months, seven years ago, made me shudder.

    Yes... (none / 0) (#9)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 10:21:38 AM EST
    ...those of us who have been subjected to this dreadful procedure understand just how horrible it is--even when one voluntarily consents to its use.  I can't imagine having it done against one's will.  

    I have always thought of hunger strikes (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by weltec2 on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 03:17:25 AM EST
    as desperate attempts to take back control of one's life (and death if need be) at the most rudimentary oral level... and re-establishing one's identity in the process. And the military says no, we will decide how you will dispense with your life. Force feeding is a kind of final insult to the self-determination and identity of the prisoner.

    I agree. (none / 0) (#10)
    by elrapido on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 12:56:57 PM EST
    Better to let them starve themselves to death.  Then they are no longer a problem for anyone.

    Banish Anonymous (none / 0) (#5)
    by weltec2 on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 03:20:40 AM EST
    Jeralyn would you please get rid of Anonymous's posts from this and the previous thread please? Their posts have absolutely nothing to do with this site.

    Done, Anonymous has been zapped (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 10:04:06 AM EST
    and is gone. Send me an email when you see spammer comments, as I don't always get to read through the threads to spot them.

    That's torture (none / 0) (#7)
    by Mikeb302000 on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 09:53:24 AM EST
    The kind of power abuse necessary to force feed someone against their will is torture, for sure.  Why is this place not closed up yet?

    force-feeding (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Tue Jan 13, 2009 at 03:37:16 PM EST
    I suppose that if we don't force feed them then GITMO will end up closing itself because all the inmates will be dead.

    Let them starve (none / 0) (#12)
    by reality on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 11:47:27 AM EST
    The detainees deserve no help. Let them starve!  Thats less money out of our tax paying pockets.