Wednesday, 23 October 2013

EVOLUTION OF FORCE FEEDING UK TO US GUANTANAMO



Seventeen men remain on hunger strike at Guantamano, with sixteen force-fed. Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain, the American Medical Association, and the United Nations have all denounced force-feeding.

On many occasions in the past British political prisoners have been force-fed by feeding tube when they went on hunger strike. It has been prohibited since 1975 by the Declaration of Tokyo of the World Medical Association, provided that the prisoner is "capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment".
"The unfortunate patients had their mouth clamped shut, had a rubber tube inserted into their mouth or nostril. They keep on pressing it down until it reaches your esophagus. A china funnel is attached to the other end of the tube and a cabbage-like mixture poured down the tube and through to the stomach. This was an unhealthy practice, as the food might have gone into their lungs and caused pneumonia."
In the United Kingdom, force-feeding was used against hunger-striking suffragettes, until the Cat and Mouse Act of 1913. Rubber tubes were inserted through the mouth (only occasionally through the nose) and into the stomach, and food poured down; the suffragettes were held down by force while the instruments were inserted into their bodies, an experience which has been likened to rape.[6] In a smuggled letter, suffragette Sylvia Pankhurstdescribed how the warders held her down and forced her mouth open with a steel gag. Her gums bled, and she vomited most of the liquid up afterwards.[7]
Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Women's Social and Political Union in the UK, was horrified by the screams of women being force-fed in HM Prison Holloway during hunger strikes in which she participated. In her autobiography, she wrote: "Holloway became a place of horror and torment. Sickening scenes of violence took place almost every hour of the day, as the doctors went from cell to cell performing their hideous office. …I shall never while I live forget the suffering I experienced during the days when those cries were ringing in my ears." When prison officials tried to enter her cell, Pankhurst, in order to avoid being force-fed, raised a clay jug over her head and announced: "If any of you dares so much as to take one step inside this cell I shall defend myself."[8]
The United Kingdom also used forcible feeding techniques against Irish Republicans during their struggle for independence. In 1917 Irish prisoner Thomas Ashe died as a result of complications from such a feeding while incarcerated at Dublin's Mountjoy Jail.[9] Marian and her sister Dolours Price, along with Gerry Kelly and Hugh Feeney, went on hunger strike which lasted over 200 days,[2] with the hunger strikers being force-fed by prison authorities for 167 of them.[3]
In an interview with Suzanne Breen, Marian Price described being force-fed:
Four male prison officers tie you into the chair so tightly with sheets you can't struggle. You clench your teeth to try to keep your mouth closed but they push a metal spring device around your jaw to prise it open. They force a wooden clamp with a hole in the middle into your mouth. Then, they insert a big rubber tube down that. They hold your head back. You can't move. They throw whatever they like into the food mixer – orange juice, soup, or cartons of cream if they want to beef up the calories. They take jugs of this gruel from the food mixer and pour it into a funnel attached to the tube. The force-feeding takes 15 minutes but it feels like forever. You're in control of nothing. You're terrified the food will go down the wrong way and you won't be able to let them know because you can't speak or move. You're frightened you'll choke to death.
Under United States jurisdiction, force-feeding is frequently[10][11] used in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, prompting in March 2006 an open letter by 250 doctors in the The Lancet, warning that, in their opinion, the participation of any doctor is contrary to the rules of the World Medical Association.[12] Retired Major General Paul E. Vallely visited Guantanamo and reported on the process of force-feeding:[13]


Beginning last February, more than 100 men at Guantánamo engaged in a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention. To try to break the protest, the US military subjected dozens of the hunger strikers to the cruel and degrading practice of nasogastric force-feeding. 

On October 18, the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, DC heard a case, first ruled on in July, seeking an injunction against force-feeding at Guantánamo on the grounds that it violates human rights and the right of religious worship. This case goes to the heart of the evil of the prison, as it argues that the purpose of force-feeding is to sustain an illegal and immoral policy of indefinite detention.

Anti-torture groups packed the courtroom to show there support for the attorneys arguing the case and their clients at Guantanamo.

Andrés Thomas Conteris — on day 103 of a water-only fast — will undergoed a nasal tube feeding in solidarity with the men at Guantánamo and to dramatize the cruelty of force-feeding. Conteris, who has lost 57 pounds, has undergone nasogastric feedings at the White House, in Oakland, California, and at US embassies in Uruguay and Argentina. Conteris, age 52, began his fast at the height of the Guantánamo hunger strike July 8, when thousands of US prisoners began hunger striking to protest the use of extended solitary confinement at Pelican Bay and other prisons.

Seventeen men remain on hunger strike at Guantánamo, with sixteen force-fed. Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain, the American Medical Association, and the United Nations have all denounced force-feeding. 

Prompted by the hunger strike and the global outcry against Guantánamo, President Obama on May 23, 2013 renewed his pledge to close the prison. Since that time, only two prisoners, both among the 86 long cleared for release by the US government, have been freed.

Witness Against Torture


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