Force Feeding at Guantanamo Bay- The True Sign of a Broken Government.

At the United States Detention base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba a number of inhumane, unconstitutional and otherwise illegal activities have taken place. Most recently there have been reports surfacing about the force-feeding of several of the facility’s detainees.

The act of force feeding is brutally painful and vastly unnecessary, it is also the signal of something much more sinister and stressful upon the human spirit than it appears to be on the surface.

In March of 2013, reports of hunger strikes began to surface. Although these initial reports were refuted, personal testimonies and case filings soon began to appear. Here is what is known to date:

Up to 84 detainees were cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay, many between 2007 and 2009. Most of those cleared for release are still being detained indefinitely. Several of these innocent detainees began to hunger strike. Some did so to protest infringements on their religious beliefs, but most did so in protest of their indefinite detainment.

As of April 2013, it was acknowledged by the United States Military that at least 100 men were on hunger strike, although some reports have claimed that there were up to 130 men striking. Of these 100, they acknowledged the force feeding of at least 20 men. The process often involves unnecessary restraining as well as other unnecessary measure such as riot squads.  Most force-feeding procedures involve the use of an excruciating nose-catheter which goes through the nose, down the throat and into the stomach in order to provided nutrient-rich liquid to detainees.

Additionally, many of those at Guantanamo Bay during this force-feeding wished to observe the fasting period of Ramadan last summer, it is unclear from mixed reports as to whether or not these fasting times, as well as the detainees religious rights were respected or not.

In July of 2013, a case regarding the force-feeding was put to trial in front of a D.C. judge. The judge, while sympathetic, could not make a ruling to prohibit the force-feeding due to that fact that the issue was outside of her jurisdiction. At the time of this trial, it was reported that at least 45 of 106 known hunger- strikers were being force-fed. During this case, the Obama administration also contradicted itself, stating that the force feedings were of “timely, compassionate quality,” however on May 23, 2013 President Obama himself recognized that our sense of justice (as Americans) should be strong enough that we do not find ourselves force-feeding innocent detainees.

Although nothing could be done at this trial to end the inhumane treatments which are clear violation of Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the case resurfaced in October.

This time, three hunger strikers, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, Shaker Aamer ( a Saudi Citizen and U.K. Resident) and Ahmed Belbacha were the plaintiffs in the case Aamer v. Obama, which was brought to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Aamer was cleared for release by the Bush administrations in 2007. Leading up to the trial, the Obama Administration caught fire from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who stated that “The United States should immediately release Aamer or give reasons for his continued detention.

By the time the October trials, the case was made by the plaintiffs that in several states, such as California, prisoners have the right to refuse medical treatments. The U.S. counter-argument to this was that in certain cases, like in the N.Y. court of appeals, it has been found that an inmate hunger strike may have a significant impact on the prison environment and cause serious disruptions, posing a threat to security, although they did not offer any evidence that this particular hunger strike in Cuba was posing any type of a security threat.

Much difficulty was encountered in the October hearings due to the fact that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals case law is limited to confinement of inmates and cannot assert habeas rulings, which pertain to the treatment of detainees. If it were to do so, it would be extending its jurisdiction beyond its case law.

The U.S. further complicated to case on October 24, be declaring that the four detainees who had filed the case were no longer considered hunger-strikers, depriving their case of a necessary element and creating a “mootness disposition” surrounding it.  The case has sense been deferred.

What is clear from all of these proceedings is that the government does not have the proper channels in place to deal with issues that occur at Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay was established in such a way that it cannot be effectively dealt with by any of the three branches of our government, which are often prided by primary teachers ad one of American government’s cornerstones, symbolic of all that is good and true about our country and as a system which keeps America honest. In reality the Judicial Branch acts as a puppet to the Executive Branch- for both past and current administrations. It often has its hands tied by congress, as seen in the July Guantanamo Bay hearings, or otherwise tangled up in its own terrified web of case law, such as the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which in part states:

“No court, justice, or judge, shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the U.S. or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, trial or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the U.S.”

And as we all witnessed in this fall’s government shutdown, Congress can barely handle itself long enough to stay open, let alone worry about passing any laws that would protect the Human rights on the wrongfully detained. And let’s not even think about the Executive Branch as being remotely capable of handling this situation at the moment. It’s so busy attempting to fix and cover up other failures of 2013, such as the rollout of Obamacare or its nuclear issues with Iran, to even think about the black mark that is Guantanamo Bay.


4N Policy Now is a non- partisan, non-biased organization. All of the views expressed in the content published on this site are the sole opinions of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of 4N Policy Now.


2 responses to “Force Feeding at Guantanamo Bay- The True Sign of a Broken Government.

  1. If you’re interested in learning more about this and other experiences in Guantanamo, I definitely recommend reading Kurnaz’s Five Years of My Life. It is a very detailed account of an innocent man’s experience there and it is a very interesting read.

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