CAIR Action Alert #694
Urge Pentagon to End Forced Feeding of Guantanamo Hunger Strike Prisoners
(WASHINGTON, DC, 5/14/13) – Yesterday, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) joined a coalition of 19 other civil liberties and human rights groups and health professionals in sending an open letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel requesting an end to the cruel practice of force-feeding hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The coalition also called for an investigation into recent allegations of military retaliation against striking prisoners and related abuses.
At least 100 of the 166 prisoners are on hunger strike, many who have already been approved for release, with 29 men being force-fed against their will. Some of the men have been detained up to 11 years without charge or trial. Many prisoners are on strike and believe they will die in Guantanamo.
In its letter to Defense Secretary Hagel, the coalition reaffirmed that the process of force-feeding is fundamentally cruel, inhuman, degrading, and carries the risk of major infections, possible death, and psychological suffering.
The letter references the World Medical Association (WMA) Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers stating: "[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 WMA, and the International Committee of the Red Cross have similar positions on forced-feeding.
The coalition's letter also noted that:
"Force-feeding as used in Guantanamo violates Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which bar cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment" and "could violate the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which prohibits the "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" of prisoners "regardless of nationality or physical location."
"[A]2006 joint report submitted by five independent human rights experts of the United Nations Human Rights Council (formerly the U.N. Commission on Human Rights) found that the method of force feeding ... amount[s] to torture."
The conclusion of the coalition's letter to Hagel states:
"[W]e urgently request that you order the immediate and permanent cessation of all force-feeding of Guantanamo prisoners. ... We request that you allow independent medical professionals to review and monitor the status of hunger-striking prisoners. ... We also request that you investigate and rectify any abusive conditions and treatment in addition to force-feeding."
CAIR has provided a "click and send" letter to Secretary Hagel for Americans who are concerned about the safety and rights of hunger-striking prisoners being indefinitely detained at Guantanamo Bay.
For more information, contact CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw [at] cair.com