Washington, July 4;Guards at the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba are force-feeding inmates only after sunset and before sunrise during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a prison spokesman said, prompting an outcry that this action represented continuing cruelty rather than religious empathy.
Navy Captain Robert Durand said to the Miami Herald, “We understand that observing the daytime fast and taking nothing by mouth or vein is an essential component of Muslim observance of Ramadan… For those detainees on hunger strike we will ensure that our preservation of life through enteral feeding does not violate the tenets of their faith.”
“Enteral feeding” is technical military term in Gitmo for the procedure by which guards “shackle a captive into a restraint chair… then a Navy nurse inserts a tube into the captive’s nose to deliver a nutritional supplement down the back of his throat and into his stomach.”
As per the most recent reports 106 of the 166 inmates were on hunger strike and 45 inmates from that group were said to be designated for “naso-gastric feeding.” Reports also noted that three inmates were lodged in the prison’s hospital this week although none among them were said to have life threatening conditions.
Captain Durand was quoted saying that the Guantanamo Bay prison, or Gitmo as it is colloquially known, was sufficiently equipped to synchronise the force-feeding of inmates to the new schedule. This will be the twelfth Ramadan spent in American captivity for most “War on Terror” detainees, and it will stretch from July 8 to August 7 this year.
While the Obama administration has for years argued that it would press for closure of the prison it earned the wrath of human rights groups and other critics when in January this year it shuttered the Prisoner’s Resettlement Office, despite 86 inmates being cleared for release.
The Pentagon’s embarrassment over the hunger strike that began earlier this year was also compounded by the New York Times publishing an article headlined, Gitmo Is Killing Me, in which inmate Samir Naji Al Hasan Moqbel (35) described as “cruel punishment” the “painful, degrading and unnecessary,” experience of having a catheter inserted into him and of being force-fed via a tube through his nose.
However this week prison officials said that those detainees not currently on hunger strike would also have their meals scheduled accordingly, and they would comprise lamb, dates and honey and “zam zam water” from a well in Makkah.
The official commitment to the new schedule came after lawyers for inmates from Algeria, Syria and Saudi Arabia were said to have petitioned the courts to prohibit daytime tube-feedings during Ramadan.