Guantánamo Force-Feeding Does Not Trouble Prison Doctors
Prison spokesman says no medical staff have expressed concerns about the treatment of hunger strikers.
Calls for the doctors who force-feed hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo Bay to refuse to perform the practice on ethical grounds have got nowhere, a spokesman for the prison said on Thursday [20 June 2013].
No doctors, nurses or corpsman had balked at feeding the prisoners or even voiced a concern about the military’s policy of using what’s known as enteral feeding to prevent any of the hunger strikers starving to death, said Navy Captain Robert Durand.
“They signed up to carry out lawful orders,” Durand said. “This is a lawful order.”
The hunger strike at the US base in Cuba is nearing a fourth month amid increasing pressure on the defence department to reconsider its response to the protest.
Officials said 104 of the 166 prisoners were on hunger strike as of Thursday in a protest against their indefinite detention. Up to 44 are strapped down each day and force-fed liquid nutrients through a nasal tube.
“We do it to preserve life,” Durand said, denying the assertions from prisoners that the procedure is painful.
On Wednesday, Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate intelligence committee, released a letter she wrote to the defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, after visiting Guantánamo in which she urged the Pentagon to re-evaluate the treatment of the hunger strikers, saying “the current approach raises very important ethical questions”.
The American Medical Association’s president wrote to Hagel in April to say that force-feeding hunger strikers violated core ethical values of the medical profession. A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine urged Guantánamo’s prison doctors to refuse to take part.
A lawyer for one of the prisoners charged before a military commission in the September 11 attacks sought unsuccessfully this week to raise the hunger strike during a pretrial hearing in the case.
Navy lieutenant commander Walter Ruiz said his client had refused meals but was not classified as a hunger striker by prison officials. Nevertheless he sought an order from the judge to bar the use of force-feeding. Prosecutors opposed the motion as not relevant.
“The reality is that it’s not the preservation of a life,” Ruiz said of force-feeding. “It’s the preservation of existence. There is no life. In essence, by keeping these people here we have already killed their soul, and their spirit and taken away their dignity.”
The judge, army colonel James Pohl, declined to take up the motion. Ruiz said he would continue to press the issue.
DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Click here to go to the current weekly digest or pick another article:
- Want to Be a True Feminist Ally? Learn from These Men
- ‘The Government Killed Him’: A Tribute to Activist and Programmer Aaron Swartz 10 Years after His Death
- Why Learning from Each Other’s Struggles Is Vital to Long-Term Movement Success
- USA 2023: 34 Mass Shootings in First Three Weeks (1.5 carnages/day)
- What Price “Defense”?
- Biden’s War (Part 2)
- U.S. Mercenaries in Ukraine Are Fighting Each Other in Court
- Proxy War: US Announces Massive $2.5 Billion Weapons Package for Ukraine
- The Old Use the Young to Wage War: "Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?"
- Free Julian Assange: The Belmarsh Tribunal at the National Press Club Washington DC
- Interpol Arrest Warrant Issued for Angolan Billionaire Isabel dos Santos
- Attempt to Try Russian Leaders for War Crimes Is Part of the West’s Weaponization of the ICC