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Force feeding is in itself torture

Thursday 20 October 2005

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Force feeding is in itself torture - Doctors and all military and government paid personnel involved are complicit in such torture and must be prosecuted for war crimes.

One of the of the most emotional things that I might say that I saw down there was the conditions and how they deteriorated within the time frame that I was there, the emotional and mental conditions of the prisoners themselves.

I recall seeing, for example, two detainees permanently residing in the detainee hospital who had become so depressed, so despondent, that they no longer had an appetite and stopped eating to the point where they were force-fed with a tube that is inserted through their nose medically into their stomach and force-fed in that manner.

And I witnessed this tube in the hospital being put in the prisoner’s nose who didn’t want it in his nose, of course.

And it’s a very painful experience.

The prisoner had to be shackled down with handcuffs to both sides of the bed.

A guard had to come back and hold the prisoner’s head back and then the medic or the nurse would come and put petroleum jelly on the end of the tube, this plastic tube, in his nose so this tube slides down.

As that happens, you hear the detainee scream out in pain.

Former Guantanamo Chaplain James Yee - For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire.

Published on Thursday, October 20, 2005 by the Associated Press

Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Say Feeding Tubes Employed as Torture

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Prisoners on hunger strike at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reported troops force-fed them with dirty feeding tubes that have been violently inserted and withdrawn as punishment, said declassified notes released Wednesday by defence lawyers.

The repeated removal and insertion of the tubes has caused striking prisoners to vomit blood and experience intense pain they have equated with torture, the lawyers reported to a U.S. federal judge after visiting their clients at the base in eastern Cuba.

Prisoners said they were taunted by troops who said the treatment was intended to persuade them to end the hunger strike that began Aug. 9, the lawyers wrote in affidavits filed as part of a lawsuit in federal court in Washington seeking greater access to prisoners at the high-security jail for terror suspects.

Lt.-Col. Jeremy Martin, a military spokesman for the Guantanamo detention centre, said all detainees in the hunger strike are closely monitored by medical personnel and mistreatment is not tolerated, though he did not know the specific procedures for handling the feeding tubes.

"Detainees...are treated humanely," Martin said.

"Claims to the contrary are wholly inaccurate and blatantly misrepresent the excellent work being done here by honourable military and civilian professionals."

Guantanamo officials have said this latest hunger strike began with 76 detainees protesting against their confinement. Defence lawyers have cited other reasons as well, including complaints about food and water, alleged abuse by guards and interrogators and their desire to either face trial or be released.

Yousef al Shehri, 21, of Saudi Arabia, told his lawyers guards removed a nasal feeding tube from one prisoner and reinserted it into another without cleaning it first.

"These large tubes...were viewed by the detainees as objects of torture," lawyer Julia Tarver, whose firm represents 10 Saudi detainees, said in an affidavit.

"They were forcibly shoved up the detainees’ noses and down into their stomachs."

At Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military holds about 500 detainees suspected of terrorist activities. Martin said 25 detainees are on hunger strike, including 22 who are being force-fed.

The number participating in the strike reached a high of 131 in mid-September when detainees refused meals to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States, Martin said.

Most detainees participating in the hunger strike are not confined to hospital beds and are permitted to exercise, take showers, send and receive mail, visit the detainee library and practise their religion, he said.

Defence lawyers who have visited the prison in recent weeks said their clients have lost substantial weight, appeared listless and depressed - and have insisted they will maintain the protest until conditions improve or they are released. A judge has not yet ruled on their request for increased access to the detainees and their medical records.

Notes of meetings between lawyers and their clients at the detention centr eare classified until they have been reviewed by the military and cleared for release.

Joshua Colangelo-Ryan, a lawyer for six men from Bahrain, said one of his clients, Isa al Murbati, has lost about 50 pounds as a result of the hunger strike.

"There’s nothing in my mind that he intends to stop the hunger strike," said Colangelo-Ryan, who returned from Guantanamo on Monday.

Tarver, who returned from the base Oct. 2, said two of her clients were being force-fed and unable to walk.

"It’s quite a drastic situation," she said.

Forum posts

  • wow. on the first article, i feel very mad and sad for what people are doing. I mean, this is like breaking the laws of the Human Liberties. If they send people to be tortured somewhere else and have "other people" torture them, it’s the same thing as having a US citizen doing it, right? If i were someone like them, if i were George Bush, i would not accept the use of torture. Torture is the act of being atrocity. Torture is crucial. I’m in 8th grade and i’m doing a controversy on torture. I read this article and i know that in some ways, torture is good, even though a person can’t see the good side of this. At first, i didn’t know how torture was/is good until i did some research on it and now i understand. People use torture to gain information on terrorism, to know if someone else are making plots. Other than this, i read/learned that the more crucial a person is using torture, the more of a chance a detanee can give false information.

    • You’re right. It’s like breaking the laws of human liberties. I’m afraid most sane people would say anything they’re told to just to stop the torture. The mere idea of what would happen to them if they don’t collaborate is enough to make them say anything the torturers tell them to. When I was in the 8th (or 9th) grade they had us read George Orwell’s "1984" and "Animal House". I hope schools still recommend them. They speak for our present times. One of the final scenes in "1984" shows us how the torturer so easily destroys the integrity of his victim. Truth and morality is of no interest...just getting him to say exactly what you want him to.