What It Is Like To Be Tortured By Force Feeding

Watch Yasin Bey, formerly Mos Def, try to undergo the same force-feeding as detainees at Gitmo are being given, and be unable to complete the procedure. (Via The Guardian).

“A burning…unbearable…like something was going into my brain.”

Right now, over 100 of the remaining 160 detainees at Guantanamo Bay are on hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention. Eighty six of those prisoners have been cleared for release. The Obama administration has been strapping many of the hunger strikers to tables and force feeding them – a process that’s incredibly painful, often involves internal bleeding, and also involves the use of a drug the long term use of which “mimics Parkinson’s disease. For more, see Andy Worthington’s excellent campaign blog.

Elsewhere in the free world, as 19 human rights groups noted in May, that’s unequivocally torture (PDF).

Because of force-feeding’s invasive nature, the World Medical Association (WMA), the preeminent international organization in the field of medical ethics and practice, has repeatedly condemned force-feeding of competent prisoners.”

“The WMA’s Tokyo Declaration, adopted in 1975, states that doctors shall respect a competent prisoner’s right to refuse artificial feeding.”

“And, in its Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers, adopted in 1991 and revised in 2006 in large part due to developments in Guantanamo, the WMA states that ‘(f)orcible 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.’ ”

“The American Medical Association, a member of the WMA, has endorsed these unequivocal principles, as evidenced by its April 25, 2013 letter to you.”

“The International Committee of the Red Cross has similarly stated: ‘The ICRC is opposed to forced feeding or forced treatment; it is essential that the detainees’ choices be respected and their human dignity preserved.’ ”

“Force-feeding as used in Guantanamo violates Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which bar cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment.”

“It also could violate the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which prohibits the ‘cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment’ of prisoners ‘regardless of nationality or physical location.’ ”

“Indeed, a 2006 joint report submitted by five independent human rights experts of the United Nations Human Rights Council (formerly the UN Commission on Human Rights) found that the method of force-feeding then used in Guantanamo, and which appears to remain in effect today, 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.”

It’s remarkably bad enough that the Obama administration is admitting to torturing by force-feeding ten timesas many detainees as the Bush administration admitted to torturing by waterboarding – to general liberal disinterest. What’s even worse is that this torture isn’t unusual – it’s widely practiced in the massive US general prison population too.

Update: The Independent

Guantanamo Bay will become a “force-feeding factory” after the government said they would try to respect the daylight fast by only force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike during the night.

In the petition, the lawyers highlight the 30 minutes it takes to force-feed a prisoner, plus the two-hours the men can be required to remain in a restraint chair for to ensure nutrients reach the stomach. The prisoner will also have to spend time in a ‘dry-cell’ after this process is finished to ensure they do not vomit or attempt to vomit.

“Force-feeding all 45 detainees during the night would leave just ten hours and 44 minutes for respondents to implement two force-feedings for up to an hour of feeding time,” the petition continues, “and four hours of total observation time, which could require dozens of restraint chairs and hundreds of staff.”

This has to stop.

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