Target: Department of Defense Medical Personnel
Goal: Stop force feeding inmates on hunger strike against conditions at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.
In protest against indefinite detention and mental and physical abuse, over half the inmates at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center are on hunger strike. Many of these prisoners have yet to be charged with any specific crime. Although hunger strikes have long been recognized as a legitimate form of political protest by the U.N., the medical staff at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center considers hunger-striking prisoners “actively suicidal.”
Consequently, 40 out of the 100 detainees on hunger strike are being force-fed via intranasal intubation, which involves inserting a plastic tube through a prisoner’s nostrils and esophagus and into their stomach. This practice is extremely painful and degrading; one prisoner compared it to forcibly swallowing “razor blades”. The World Medical Association prohibited the physician assisted force feeding of political prisoners and prisoners of war in 1975. Despite this, as well as a recent warning from the American Medical Association that physician assisted force feeding of political protestors violates medical ethics, this practice continues at Guantanamo Bay.
In 1975, the United States signed a pledge along the World Medical Association to stop the force feeding of political prisoners. The American Medical Association recently decried the use of physician force feeding at Guantanamo Bay under the guise of preventative care. Protest is not pathological. The medical staff at Guantanamo Bay Detention center should stand with the American Medical Association and abandon the practice of force feeding inmates on hunger strike.
Dear Department of Defense Medical Personnel,
Over half the inmate population of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center is on hunger strike. These prisoners are striking against inhumane and immoral treatment at the hands of the United States military. Many of these prisoners still have not been charged with any formal crime, and they have been subjected to beatings, verbal abuse, and sleep deprivation. It is your policy to treat inmates on hunger strike as though they are exhibiting psychological symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation, despite the United States’ 1975 pledge to stand with the World Medical Association in ending the practice of force-feeding political prisoners.
In addition, your colleagues in the American Medical Association have called the physician assisted force feeding of political prisoners “medically unethical”. George Annas, a professor at the prestigious Boston School of Medicine, recently stated in the Journal of The American Medical Association that the portrayal of [Guantanamo Bay doctors] as ethically intervening to preserve life by force feeding detainees is incorrect, and that the medical staff at Guantanamo Bay has a moral duty not to engage in the practice of force feeding.
Intranasal force feeding is an extremely painful and degrading practice. Inmates have compared it to the forcible swallowing of “razor-blades”, and some develop PTSD from the process. Remember the Hippocratic Oath: “first do no harm”. Intranasal force feeding invalidates the one method of political protest available to inmates, some of whom have yet to be formally charged with any crime. Stand with your national and international colleagues in the field of medicine. Stop force-feeding inmates on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Refuse to engage in this barbaric practice, and refuse to sanction its continuation at Guantanamo Bay.
[Your Name Here]