As the Hunger Strike of over 109 prisoners continues at Guantanamo – that hunger strike now into its 127th day, (quote as reported by Carol Rosenburg):
“As of Wednesday, the prison said it was administering tube-feedings to 43 of the 104 captives it concedes are hunger strikers among the 166 detainees. Four were in the hospital, none with life-threatening conditions. [Navy Capt. Robert Durand ]Durand has said he is forbidden to include in his force-feeding figures alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed or any of the 13 other ex-CIA captives segregated from the others in a top secret prison called Camp 7.”
Nice that the “Captain,” finally, acknowledges there are more than 100 hunger striking "detainees" (prisoners) and over 40 being force-fed - more closely resembling the figures given by the lawyers for the prisoners, and human rights organizations.
Funny thing about truth… It eventually claws its way into the light of day.
Jason Leopold, now writing for Al Jazeera, is reaching a larger international audience as he reports on the abuses at Guantanamo from the latest policy and procedure of force-feeding the striking prisoners to the renewal of some old policies, removing the meager "privileges" they have been allowed post-Obama.
The force-feeding policy is abusive and degrading - to some, is tantamount to torture.
I am reminded of an interview given by former Guantanamo guard, Terry Holdbrooks, author of an autobiography entitled "Traitor?", in which he discusses his "tour" at the camp.
“Don’t interact, don’t talk, they are not humans,”
............was the standing order.
Terry was at Guantanamo from June 2003 through July 2004 - Before Obama - but, it appears that “order” is still at work today – at least in the behavior of those running the camp.
In a report from DemocracyNow, one attorney received the following message in a letter from Yemini detainee Bashir al-Marwalah:
“We are in danger. One of the soldiers fired on one of the brothers a month ago. Before that, they send the emergency forces with M-16 weapons into one of the brothers’ cell blocks. ... Now they want to return us to the darkest days under [George W.] Bush. They said this to us. Please do something."
Amid the prison "officials" continued denials as they demand the utilization of abusive techniques to break the hunger strike, there appears to be a growing voice confronting the inhumanity of the force-feeding technique - clearly an unethical procedure - as well as the potential intimidation in order to assure the medical personnel’s compliance with the procedure. The “truth” seems to be clawing its way into the minds of those who have the balls to use their voice .
The New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial , this week, entitled, “Guantanamo Bay: A Medical Ethics–free Zone?”
The authors, Bioethicist George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H., Sondra S. Crosby, M.D., and Leonard H. Glantz, J.D. call for the physicians at Guantanamo as well as outside the prison “to take constructive political action” with regards to the ethics violations ordered to be committed by the medical staff and any pressures brought to bear in order to force compliance with unethical procedures or to punish those who refuse to take part.
As noted in the article and elsewhere, the consensus of physicians worldwide concerning the use of involuntary and restrained (forced) feeding of those participating in a hunger strike includes the following:
- Article 6 of The 1975 Tokyo Declaration of the World Medical Association: "Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially."
- Article 21 of The 1991 Malta Declaration of the World Medical Association (as revised in 1992 and 2006): "Forcible feeding is never ethically acceptable. Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment. Equally unacceptable is the forced feeding of some detainees in order to intimidate or coerce other hunger strikers to stop fasting".
- Conclusion to a Red Cross position paper on the medical and ethical aspects of hunger strikes in custody: “Doctors should never be party to actual coercive feeding, with prisoners being tied down and intravenous drips or esophageal tubes being forced into them. Such actions can be considered a form of torture, and under no circumstances should doctors participate in them, on the pretext of “saving the hunger striker’s life”.
The policy, as stated in the ”Standard Operating Procedure: Medical Management of Detainees on Hunger Strike,” at Guantanamo violates these tenets.
Even Jeremy A. Lazarus, President of the American Medical Association, in his recent letter, dated April 25, 2013, to Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State, states:
"The American Medical Association (AMA) noted in 2005 and 2009, when concerns arose about the treatment of hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, that the forced feeding of detainees violates core ethical values of the medical profession. Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining interventions.
The AMA has long endorsed the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo, which is unequivocal on the point: 'Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially. The decision as to the capacity of the prisoner to form such a judgment should be confirmed by at least one other independent physician."
We urge you to ensure that this matter receives prompt and thorough attention and to address any situation in which a physician may be asked to violate the ethical standards of his or her profession. The AMA remains committed to providing whatever assistance we can.”
The men at Guantanamo, left without hope, without due process, without charge (only 5 have been formally charged but all have been tortured) are the reason we cannot call ourselves “the land of the free” ….nor are we even remotely close to being “The bright and shining beacon”
The innocent men (86 men found totally innocent - without any association with terrorism, terrorist activity, association with anyone who is "trying to do us harm," or even commission of questionable acts) at Guantanamo are risking the only thing they have left – their lives.
They are willing to die waiting for our humanity - When are we going to find it?