Gitmo Force-Feeding Continues Through Ramadan
by Stephen Lendman
Doing so constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. It inflicts excruciating pain and suffering. It’s aggravated assault writ large. It’s torture under international law provisions.
It violates human dignity. It reflects disdain for human suffering. It’s Josef Mengele-style treatment. Nazi prisoners were coerced. They had no choice. Experiments constituted torture. Obama reflects the worst of cruel despots.
As president and commander-in-chief, he’s empowered to stop what’s unconscionable to allow. Dismissively he lets it continue. Doing so’s a crime against humanity. It persists viciously. It does so extrajudicially.
On July 5, Guantanamo’s hunger strike reached day 150. At least 106 of the facility’s 166 prisoners refuse food. They do so for justice. They prefer death to indefinite detention uncharged. Around four dozen are force-fed.
They committed no crimes. They’re lawlessly incarcerated. They’re denied due process and judicial fairness. Rogue states operate that way. America’s by far the worst.
Younous Chekkouri spent 11 years at Guantanamo. He was cleared for release. He’s still there. He’s uncharged. He’s hunger striking for justice. He and others involved are punished for doing so.
Guards conduct humiliating invasive body searches. They constitute sexual abuse. Prisoners call it rape.
Abdelhadi Raraj explained, saying:
“It is not unusual for prison guards here to search prisoners’ genital parts and their rectum 10 times in a single day.”
It’s done to punish and humiliate. It’s standard practice. According to Chekkouri, “searches (spread) fear and shame.”
“Eight guards with the watch commander surround meâ€¦while two of them put their hands all over me. The sexual assault hasn’t just happened to me. Why are they doing this? That’s what I’d like to know.”
Anne Richardson represents one Guantanamo detainee. Prisoners are subjected to freezing temperatures, she said.
They’re “punished and treated like animals.” They’re denied proper medical care. They’re subjected to appalling treatment. It’s routine.
Hunger strikers are brutalized most of all. Media scoundrels ignore it. Doing so condones cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It reflects complicity with lawlessness.
On July 10, Russia Today headlined “Shock video ft. Mos Def reenacts gruesome Gitmo-style force-feeding.”
Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) is a US actor/rapper. He “volunteered to undergo the painful procedure used” twice daily on detainees. A “shocking four-minute” video showed what he experienced.
Reprieve “uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantanamo Bay.”
It released the film. Award-winning director Asif Kapadia directed it. RT said “viewers may find (it) disturbing.” Human suffering isn’t easy to watch.
Mos Def’s attired Gitmo-style. He’s shackled and strapped to a chair. His hands and head are “tightly belted. One person acting as a prison doctor holds the rapper’s head, while another one forces a plastic tube down his nostril.”
“The element of theatricalism created by HD Cam close-ups and studio lightning vanishes as soon as Mos Def obviously reacts to the excruciating pain.”
He “coughs, groans, and twists as the tube rushing down his esophagus brings tears to his eyes. While his whole body bends in agony, another man hurries to the scene to hold him down. The tube is quickly removed.”
“A genuine expression of terror crosses Mos Def’s face when a doctor moves back to re-insert the tube. The rapper begs for the procedure to be stopped.”
“Three men start forcing the rapper back into the chair as he cries out and tries to resist.”
“(T)hey soon realize (he’s) not acting.” He’s in “serious pain.”
Before breaking into tears, he said: “I can’t do it.”
Viewers are reminded that Gitmo detainees experience this procedure for two hours. They do so each time it’s administered. It’s done twice daily.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Def.
“The first part of it is not that bad, but then you get this burning and it starts to be really unbearable, like something is going into my brain and it reaches the back of my throat.”
He “really couldn’t take it,” he added. Imagine taking it twice daily every day interminably. Imagine the permanent physical and psychological harm inflicted.
Imagine a nation calling itself a democracy doing it. Imagine America’s first Black president permitting it. Perhaps he should try it firsthand and see. Fairness demands he shouldn’t be given a choice.
Islamic leaders expressed outrage. They did so responsibly. They reacted to force-feeding during Ramadan. They want it stopped altogether. They want Gitmo closed. It violates “every international legal norm,” they said.
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):
“Our position has always been that it’s wrong to force feed detainees. That’s the position of international legal experts. It’s the position of medical ethicists.”
“It’s the position of every right-thinking person who doesn’t want to see detainees abused in this way. Whether you do it in daylight hours or after sunset, wrong is wrong.”
CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper added:
“The only reason why people are carrying out this hunger strike is because they feel desperate. They feel nothing will ever change for them.”
“You have to give them some hope somehow that they’re situation is going to change. Otherwise what do you have left?”
Days earlier, a Gitmo spokesman said force-feeding will continue during Ramadan. It’ll be synchronized, he added.
On July 8, Ramadan began. On August 7, it ends. On July 1, lawyers representing four detainees petitioned the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
They want force-feeding ended. It’s unethical and immoral. It violates international standards and norms. It prevents Muslims from practicing Islam.
The American Medical Association stands forthrightly opposed. In April, it wrote Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel saying so. According to AMA president Jeremy Lazarus:
“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.’ ”
A Constitutional Project bipartisan report condemns force-feeding. CP’s Gerald Thomson said “(We) came out very strongly condemning force-feeding, and this is in keeping and in line with international ethical standards.”
Al Jazeera long ago fell from grace. Qatar owns and operates it. Content is rigorously controlled. Managed news misinformation substitutes for truth and full disclosure.
Staff members resigned before. They did so in protest. Twenty-two others did so recently. They accused Al Jazeera of biased coverage. They want no part of being told what to report or suppress.
On July 7, Al Jazeera surprised. Exceptions prove the rule. It headlined “My life at Guantanamo.” It gave Gitmo detainee Moath al-Alwi a chance to explain.
He’s a Yemeni national. He’s been imprisoned since 2002. He committed no crimes. He’s uncharged. He’s denied due process and judicial fairness.
He said, in part:
“To protest this injustice, I began a hunger strike in February. Now, twice a day, the US military straps me down to a chair and pushes a thick tube down my nose to force-feed me.”
“When I choose to remain in my cell in an act of peaceful protest against the force-feeding, the prison authorities send in a Forced Cell Extraction team: six guards in full riot gear.”
“Those guards are deliberately brutal to punish me for my protest. They pile up on top of me to the point that I feel like my back is about to break.”
“They then carry me out and strap me into the restraint chair, which we hunger strikers call the torture chair.”
They restrain “me to the chair with my arms cuffed behind my back. The chest strap is then tightened, trapping my arms between my torso and the chair’s backrest.”
“This is done despite the fact that the torture chair features built-in arm restraints. It is extremely painful to remain in this position.”
Tied to the chair, “a guard digs his thumbs under my jaw, gripping me at the pressure points and choking me as the tube is inserted down my nose and into my stomach.”
“They always use my right nostril now because my left one is swollen shut after countless feeding sessions. Sometimes, the nurses get it wrong, snaking the tube into my lung instead, and I begin to choke.”
“If a prisoner vomits after this ordeal, the guards immediately return him to the restraint chair for another round of force-feeding. I’ve seen this inflicted on people up to three times in a row.”
“Even vital medications for prisoners have been stopped by military medical personnel as additional pressure to break the hunger strike.”
“I spend the rest of my time in my solitary confinement cell, on 22-hour lockdown.”
“The authorities have deprived us of the most basic necessities. No toothbrushes, toothpaste, blankets, soap or towels are allowed in our cells.”
“If you ask to go to the shower, the guards refuse. They bang on our doors at night, depriving us of sleep.”
“They have also instituted a humiliating genital search policy. I asked a guard why. He answered: “So you don’t come out to your meetings and calls with your lawyers and give them information to use against us.”
Al-Alwi’s weight dropped from 168 to 108 pounds. “Prisoners weights are as low as their spirits are high,” he explained.
“Every man I know here is determined to remain on hunger strike until the US government begins releasing prisoners,” he added.
Obama’s empowered to do it. He can order it straightaway. He needs no congressional or judicial approval. He lied claiming otherwise.
He did last month saying “we’re redoubling our efforts to close” Gitmo. Throughout his tenure, he made no effort whatever to do it. He favors keeping it open indefinitely.
He supports renovation and expansion plans. He’s keeping innocent detainees imprisoned lawlessly. He has no intention to release them.
He reflects the worst of rogue leadership. He’s a world class thug. He menaces humanity. He does so ruthlessly. He belongs in prison, not high office. Prosecuting him for high crimes is a national priority.
A Final Comment
On July 12, Pentagon officials said 99 hunger strikers ate a meal in the last 24 hours. Whether true or not isn’t known. Military and administration officials consistently lie. Nothing they say can be taken at face value.
Lawyers representing detainees are justifiably skeptical. David Remes represents five force-fed hunger strikers.
“All I hear from my clients is that they are going to keep going, and they are not going to stop” until they’re released and sent home, he said.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.