In 2008, President Obama promised the nation that he would close Guantanamo Bay. He has said this repeatedly. Yet it is now 2013 and that promise has not been kept. Guantanamo Bay is still open. To protest their detainment and treatment, 140 detainees have begun a hunger strike. When hunger strikes happen at Guantanamo, authorities initiate force-feeding programs for those detainees.
The month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which began on Monday, brings challenges to these force-feeding programs. In order to respect the religion of detainees, the Gitmo authorities will try to honor the daytime fast and then force-feed 45 detainees before dawn and after sunset. As if that somehow makes it better.
The video, which was released by The Guardian shows how disturbing, painful, and inhumane this procedure is. Although Bey only was able to go through one attempt of force-feeding, the reality is that detainees experience this twice a day and each session can take two hours. In a New York Times article written by a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, he recalls the first time he was force-fed:
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Medical Association, and the American Medical Association all concluded that force-feeding is a violation of medical ethics. Yet, the US government says that force feeding is “humane, high-quality medical care to preserve life and health.”
Maybe I’m just a cynic, but nothing about what goes on at Guantanamo screams humane, nor does it seek to preserve life and health. The humane thing would be to give the detainees a trial or let them go.
It is disgusting to once again have to hear about all the injustices that occur at Guantanamo Bay. President Obama has been promising the closing of this horrific place and yet it hasn’t happened. On Monday, a Federal District Judge ruled that she doesn’t have the authority to halt the force-feeding program, meaning that only President Obama can stop this.
President Obama, if you truly believe that Guantanamo Bay is not what America is about, you need to close it, like, yesterday.