Lawyers for hunger-striking Guantanamo detainees have filed an appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal in Washington, DC against their ongoing force-feeding by US authorities.
Previous attempts by detainees to have the courts stop their force-feeding – which has been described as torture by the UN and against medical ethics by the American Medical Association – have been unsuccessful, although federal judges have strongly criticised the practice.
Ruling in a recent case brought by detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab, Judge Gladys Kessler said: “it is perfectly clear…that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating, and degrading process.” However, she found that the court lacked the jurisdiction to intervene.
Today’s appeal is being brought by Shaker Aamer, Nabil Hadjarab, and Ahmed Belbacha, who are represented by lawyers at human rights charity Reprieve and Jon B Eisenberg.
In a recent unclassified phone call with Cori Crider, a Guantanamo Attorney and Strategic Director at Reprieve, Mr Belbacha described the force-feeding:
"I’m still being force-fed, once a night, and the way that they do it in Ramadan makes us all exhausted. There are two waves: the first group goes at 8pm, and the second group later – in theory, it’s at 10pm, but sometimes 11, it happens at midnight or even later. It’s extremely tiring.
"The other problem I’ve had since Ramadan is this new feeding solution they use, called Jevity – it’s very strong. Before was bad, but this is even worse. I’ve thrown it up several times. They never seemed to notice – I’ve never been fed twice in a night – I suppose because I haven’t vomited until I have gotten back to my cell. I weigh 125 pounds now and am extremely feeble….
"…if someone has a nose problem, they can be with them for a very long time and will have to try to insert the tube repeatedly. A lot of people have a problem getting the tube in the nose. I still cry sometimes, with the tube. It’s very difficult.
"One guy broke his hunger strike because the tube was just too painful. It took a very, very long time to get the tube in. Every single time it was torture for him, and eventually he just had to give up.
"Soldiers are always trying to get us to stop the hunger strike. Most recently the doctor took people and told them that they wanted us to stop – and officers said to us at the start of Ramadan that if we didn’t stop we’d be put in isolation."
Commenting, Cori Crider said: “As a federal judge has pointed out, President Obama has the power to address this situation – but he has persistently failed to do so. He could bring this crisis to an end by letting the prisoners which his own Government has cleared, and that’s the majority at this point, go home.”