Gitmo prisoners ask court to end force-feedings

Four Guantánamo Bay prisoners filed a motion (PDF) in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on June 30 asking the federal court to order the prison’s officials to stop the practice of force-feeding hunger strikers. In their motion, Shaker Aamer, Ahmed Belbacha, Nabil Hadjarab and Abu Wa’el Dhiab alleged that the practice violates human rights law and medical ethics, while serving “no penological interest.” They also noted that they have all been detained at Guantanamo for 11 years and have since determined that it is not likely they will ever be charged or released, and thus their being force-fed serves no military necessity. They requested an accelerated hearing on the issue in order to avoid any conflict with the upcoming Islamic holiday Ramadan, which begins on the evening of July 8. Currently, there are 166 detainees at the Guantanamo prison, of which 106 are on hunger strike.

From Jurist, July 3. Used with permission.

  1. Gitmo inmate accuses US military of sexual assault
    Younis Chekkouri, a Moroccan Guantanamo Bay detainee, recently disclosed in a letter to his lawyer that the US military personnel are punishing him and other hunger-strikers every time they leave or return to their cells. Chekkouri described being surrounded by eight guards and a watch commander in a room while two guards “put their hands all over” him. Todd Breasseale, speaking on behalf of the US Department of Defense, has stated:

    We will not be discussing this matter in the press because it is currently in active litigation and we will have nothing to add until it is decided in court…Generally speaking, however, I can tell you that those entrusted with safeguarding the detainees at JTF Guantanamo Bay are some of the most professional, most heavily scrutinized guards on the planet and absurd accusations simply do not withstand intellectual rigor.

    Chekkouri’s lawyer, however, claims that assault is a tactic used to prevent inmates from spreading information about what is happening inside Guantanamo Bay to the outside world. He stated that if detainees must weigh whether to disclose information against prospective assault, they will choose to withhold information to avoid the assault.

    From Jurist, July 4. Used with permission.

  2. Gitmo inmates suspend hunger strike for Ramadan
    A total of 25 Guantánamo prisoners have quit their hunger strike during Ramadan, according to the US military. Navy medical staff still considered 45 captives sufficiently malnourished to require night-time forced-feedings. Prison spokesmen suggested they had broken part of the protest by adopting a new policy: Captives had to abandon their five-month-old hunger strike to live in communal detention—where they can pray and eat in groups—after months alone in maximum-security lockdown. (Miami Herlad, July 14)