Judge Orders Pentagon to Preserve Videos of Force-Feeding Hunger Strikers at Guantánamo

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Judge Gladys Kessler (photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)

The U.S. military has been ordered by a federal judge to stop force-feeding a hunger striker at Guantanamo Bay and to preserve videos showing the controversial procedure.


District Court Judge Gladys Kessler’s ruling came in the case of Mohammed Abu Wa’el Dhiab of Syria, who has been detained without trial for 12 years.


Dhiab is one of more than 100 Guantanamo prisoners who have refused to eat to protest their treatment and indefinite detentions at the U.S. facility in Cuba.


Like the others who have gone on hunger strikes, Dhiab was subjected to nasogastric feedings in a restraint chair in an effort by the Obama administration to keep him alive.


During the procedure, detainees are strapped down and have tubes inserted into their nostrils and down theirs throats, allowing liquid nutritional supplements to reach their stomachs.


These forced-feedings were recorded by Guantanamo authorities, and in Dhiab’s case at least, Kessler demanded the videos be maintained for the time being.


Kessler raised concerns over the feedings in a previous ruling, noting that it was “perfectly clear” that “force-feeding is a painful, humiliating and degrading process.”


Dhiab was designated for release four years ago by a special task force created under the Obama administration. But the government has had trouble finding a suitable country that would take him, resulting in his continued detention.


There has been talk of a deal with Uruguay, which reportedly is willing to accept Dhiab and five other detainees. However, the U.S. usually requires that host countries impose travel restrictions and surveillance on resettled detainees, which Uruguay is not willing to do. “We are not the jailers of the United States government, or the United States Senate,” the country’s president, José Mujica, said according to The New York Times. “We are offering solidarity on a question that we see as one of human rights.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Judge Halts Force-Feeding of Syrian Guantánamo Captive (by Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald)

Guantánamo Hunger Strikers Accuse US of Manipulating Force-Feeding Data (by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian)

Judge Orders U.S. to Stop Force-Feeding Syrian Held at Guantánamo (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)

Abu Wa’el (Jihad) Dhiab v. Barack Obama, et al. (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia)

Pentagon Rebrands Guantánamo Hunger Strikes as “Long-Term Non-Religious Fasts” (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)


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