The UN human rights body has censured force-feeding of hunger striking captives at US military prison and torture camp in Guantanamo, Cuba as “torture” and a violation of international law, while the number of inmates being force-fed climbs to 23.
“If it’s perceived as torture or inhuman treatment – and it’s the case, it’s painful – then it is prohibited by international law,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) spokesman Rupert Coville as cited in an AFP report on Friday.
Coville noted that the UNHCHR adopt the position based on the ethical standards of the World Medical Association (WMA), an international organization that monitors ethics in healthcare, which amended its standards in 1991, describing forcible feeding as “a form of inhuman treatment” and “never ethically acceptable.”
“Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied with threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment,” the WMA document states. “Equally unacceptable is the force feeding of some detainees in order to intimidate or coerce other hunger strikers to stop fasting.”
This is while the WMA consists of 102 members, including the United States.
The development comes as two more Guantanamo hunger strikers were added to the 21 inmates, out of the officially-reported 100 who have joined the hunger strike protest, that were already being force-fed by US Navy’s ‘medical forces’ through nasal tubes.
The force-feeding process has been described by hunger strikers subjected to the measure as extremely painful and degrading. Those that refuse to heed prison guard demands to take meals, are strapped to a chair while military medical officers forcefully insert tubes through the victim’s nose into their stomach and feed them liquid nutrients.
This is while an attorney representing a 35-year-old Kuwaiti detainee at the Guantanamo military prison, Fayiz al-Kandari, said that his client has been tube-fed against his will for a week, charging that American military medical forces use an “unnecessarily large feeding tube.”
Moreover, another foreign captive from Yemen, amir Naji al Hasan, described the force-feeding process as ‘extremely painful’ in a New York Times article published on April 15.
“There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach,” wrote Moqbel, reportedly assisted by an Arabic translator and his lawyer.
“I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone,” he added.
The hunger strike at the infamous US military detention facility originally began in early February and has drastically surged in recent weeks. The detainee’s refusal to eat came as an effort to protest the searching of their Quran and other personal belongings by prison guards as well as their indefinite detention without any charges or the right to a trial.
US authorities claim that 100 of the total 166 Guantanamo inmates are currently on hunger strikes, but lawyers of the foreign captives have reported that 130 detainees have joined the protest effort.
After failing to fulfill his 2008 presidential campaign pledge to shut down the notorious Guantanamo detention camp by 2009, US President Barack Obama once again promised in a Tuesday news conference to press American lawmakers in Congress to close the facility.
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