October 26, 2005
WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. government to provide medical records on Guantanamo prisoners who are being force-fed while on a hunger strike and to notify their lawyers about forced feedings.
U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler acted after lawyers representing about a dozen men held at the prison for foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, expressed urgent concern over their deteriorating health amid a hunger strike launched in early August.
Kessler stated in her opinion that the detainees’ lawyers had presented “deeply troubling” allegations of forced feedings in which U.S. personnel violently shoved tubes as thick as a finger through the men’s noses and into their stomachs without anesthesia or sedatives.
“If the allegations are true – and they are all explicitly, specifically and vigorously denied by the government – they describe conduct of which the United States can hardly be proud,” the judge wrote.
Julia Tarver, a lawyer for the detainees, had told the court she learned during a visit to the base several weeks ago of force-feedings that caused prisoners to vomit blood. Tarver wrote, “When they vomited up blood, the soldiers mocked and cursed at them, and taunted them with statements like ‘look what your religion has brought you.’”
Tarver told the court that prison guards took a feeding tube from one detainee, “and with no sanitization whatsoever, reinserted it into the nose of a different detainee.”
The prison’s commander stated that the facility was operated “in a humane manner”—helpfully redefining the concept so the world can put this kind of thing in context.
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