Author Archive | Martha Davis

Guantanamo Force-Feeding Trial is a Breakthrough

Interrogation still 2Accountability for those responsible for the post 9/11 US torture program is a very slow process, but a new federal trial is a major step forward.

Judge Gladys Kessler of the DC District Court is hearing a case brought by Guantanamo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab and his lawyers against the very brutal method of force feeding used on the hunger strikers. Mr. Dhiab has been on hunger strike for over six years and was cleared for release in 2009, but is still in Guantanamo.

The case is about the method itself. Riot squads violently “extract” the detainee from his cell, strap him in a chair with five-point restraints and insert the tube in especially painful ways. (This procedure was shown in Doctors of the Dark Side with a description by a lawyer who succeeded in getting a more humane force feeding method for his client in a 2008 case.)

Judge Kessler recently ruled that videotapes of the force feeding procedure must be made public.… Read the rest

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The President’s Hunger Strike

Still from "Doctors of the Dark Side"

Still from “Doctors of the Dark Side”

With 100 detainees on hunger strike, some near organ failure or death, the President and media have renewed talk of closing Guantanamo.   This is not the first time detainees have struck to protest their abuse and indefinite detention.   Some, like Ahmed Zuhair (detained without charge 2002-2008), spent years on hunger strike.   In 2005 officials used force and isolation to break the solidarity of the hunger strikers.  Then and now, the reactions of Guantanamo officials have been predictable.   What is different today is the resolve of the hungers strikers and the greater number of Americans sadder and wiser about administration spin on who the detainees are, how they are being treated, and what they deserve.

You wouldn’t know from media coverage of the 2005 hunger strike that there was a crisis in Guantanamo.  Judging from official comments just a few “bad apples” were causing the trouble, and the Command had everything under humane control.… Read the rest

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Guantanamo Detainees Brutally Force Fed During Hunger Strike

Forced feeding (still from 'Doctors of the Dark Side')

Up to 130 of the 166 detainees left in Guantanamo are reported to be taking part in a hunger strike with at least 11 being force fed (see also this piece by Chris Hayes at MSNBC).

What is not widely reported is the brutal way that detainees have been force fed by the Guantanamo medical staff, a protocol that appears to be in use now.

As detainee lawyer Ramzi Kassen explains in Doctors of the Dark Side, detainees are strapped in a 5-point restraint chair–dubbed by some detainees the “torture” chair–and large tubes that may be left in for days are jammed down their noses without anesthesia or lubricants. When detainees resist the brutal procedure, they are forcibly extracted from their cells by soldiers in full riot gear at the direction of the medical staff.

Lawyers for the despairing detainees, of whom 86 were approved for release over two years ago, are very worried that their clients will die or be permanently injured in the hunger strike.… Read the rest

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