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US Admits 16 Guantanamo Detainees Being Force-Fed

Army Lt. Col. Samuel House says nearly half of prisoners on hunger strike

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Half of the 166 detainees as the Guantánamo Bay prison are on hunger strike and 16 of them are being force-fed, a US military official stated Saturday, a further acknowledgement that the detention facility is engaging in an act considered by many a form of torture.

According to Army Lt. Col. Samuel House, 84 prisoners are now on hunger strike, though lawyers representing the detainees have said that most of the 166 prisoners are on hunger strike to protest the cruelty of their indefinite detention. 

On force-feeding, ProPublica reported:

The military says strikers “present” themselves for the procedure, though it also says passing out counts as consent.

Others have been tied down for feedings. Moqbel, in his account in the New York Times, said he was once tied to a bed for 26 hours last month. Now, he wrote, “Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come.”

The Red Cross and other groups oppose force-feeding; they say prisoners have a right to choose whether they eat. The U.S. military position is that it would be inhumane to let prisoners starve.

One of those on hunger strike is Shaker Aamer, who has languished at the prison for 11 years despite being one of the 86 prisoners cleared for release.  He told the UK's Observer:

I hope I do not die in this awful place. I want to hug my children and watch them as they grow. But if it is God's will that I should die here, I want to die with dignity. I hope, if the worst comes to the worst, that my children will understand that I cared for the rights of those suffering around me almost as much as I care for them.

Kevin Gosztola adds:

Like other prisoners, [Aamer] is aware of the growing support and solidarity among citizens around the world, who understand he and many others in the prison should not be experiencing this inhumane treatment and abuse that is essentially torture. And, as a result, he states, “There is more solidarity among the prisoners than ever before.”

Last weekend, guards at the detention facility fired four "non-lethal" rounds at prisoners to force them from communal cellblocks into isolated one-man cells in an attempt to end the ongoing hunger strike.


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