U.S. force-feeding Guantanamo hunger strikers

Friday, October 7, 2005

Reports from Amnesty International and an attorney representing some detainees indicate that hunger strikes continue among those held at the United States detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. More than 200 prisoners are participating in the hunger strike — of these, 21 are being force fed by military personnel.

According to human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, the prisoners have been shackled to their beds to prevent them removing the feeding tubes that have been inserted into their noses. “The notion that a qualified medical practitioner would be prepared to supervise such a procedure (as force-feeding through a tube), goes against all medical ethics, certainly in this country,” said Trevor Turner, a director of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital of London.

Military authorities maintain that only 36 detainees are currently strikers — they define a hunger striker as one who has refused at least nine meals. According to U.S. military personnel, a striker is only force-fed when his life is in danger.

Some detainees have been striking since August to protest the alleged inhumane conditions at the camp as well as their indefinite confinement without charge or normal legal rights, according to attorneys representing them.