Sunday, November 2, 2014

Gitmo Detainee Forced Feeding: Torture or Medical Protocol

Behind the Wall and Doors at Gitmo
(Who cares what goes there, right)

Volunteer and Controlled Test Environment
(forcing him to take nourishment)

Mulard Duck Forced Feeding
(to fatten its liver for larger foie gras)

Back in the spotlight at Gitmo is the issue of detainee forced feeding: It asks the question once again: “Is it a form of torture or not?” Two parts follow:

The UK human rights organization “Reprieve” released a video in which Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, a well-known and critically acclaimed American hip-hop artist and actor, underwent (or attempted) the force-feeding procedure undergone by hunger strikers imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. 

In a five-minute video, Bey dressed in an orange jumpsuit like those worn by prisoners at Guantánamo Bay states simply that this is the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for force-feeding hunger striking detainees.

We see him shackled to a chair resembling those used at Gitmo. He is approached and held down by two people who attempt to insert a naso-gastric tube down his nasal passage way. The video shows Bey struggling against the tube, crying out, protesting, yelling for it to stop, and ultimately the force feeding is not carried out. The video is extremely emotional and difficult to watch. After the attempted force-feeding ends, Bey struggles to describe what it feels like, describing it as ‘unbearable’. 

Further, for more background, there are 166 detainees at Gitmo. Of those, 126 have been cleared for release as not posing any threat to U.S. national security, but they are still being held.

To protest their treatment and indefinite confinement prisoners have engaged in hunger strikes since the prison camp opened in July of 2002, the first wide scale hunger strike reached a peak in June 2005, when between 130-200 out of approximately 500 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay began refusing food.

While President Obama has recently renewed his pledge to close Guantánamo Bay, and a federal judge has even more recently stated that while she had no power to stop the force-feedings, Obama could himself order the force-feedings stopped.

Second Part: More on that legal aspect from the NY Times called simply “The Guantánamo Tapeshere. The bottom line on the legal wrangling is this, in part:

That federal judge mentioned above, who seemed most sympathetic to the detainees’ plight, Gladys Kessler, had concluded that she simply lacked the authority to rule on the conditions of their confinement, based on a 2006 law intended to prevent the prisoners from petitioning the judiciary and challenging their detention.

However, lo and behold, Judge Kessler as it turns out, is wrong. Earlier this year, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled, 2 to 1, that she did have jurisdiction. There are strict medical protocols for force-feeding hospital patients or prisoners. If the military violated those protocols — especially if detainees were force-fed in an abusive, punitive manner — then she could order them to stop.  

This ugly, very long saga continues, and it still remains an ugly blight on America against all that we say we stand for. This is as bad as the long-awaited Senate Report on Torture still held up by political nonsense. (I will update this topic later, too).

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