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Death of a Hunger Striker


What are the implications for the US if the hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay result in death?

The result will be widespread rioting in the Muslim world. The deaths will further fuel the resolve and enhance the aims of Muslim terrorists. A possible fragmentation of what friends the US has left in the Middle East is also a possible outcome

On May 5, 1981, imprisoned Irish Catholic militant Bobby Sands dies after refusing food for 66 days in protest of his treatment as a criminal rather than a political prisoner by British authorities. His death immediately kicked-off widespread rioting in Belfast, as young Irish-Catholic militants clashed with police and British Army patrols and started fires. Bobby SandsBobby Sands was born into a Catholic family in a Protestant area of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1954. In 1972, sectarian violence forced his family to move to public housing in a Catholic area, where Sands was recruited by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). The Provisional IRA, formed in 1969 after a break with the Official IRA, advocated violence and terrorism as a means of winning independence for Northern Ireland from Britain. (The Provisional IRA, the dominant branch, is generally referred to as simply the IRA.) After independence, according to the IRA, Northern Ireland would be united with the Republic of Ireland in a socialist Irish republic. In 1972, Sands was arrested and convicted of taking part in several IRA robberies. Because he was convicted for IRA activities, he was given “special category status” and sent to a prison that was more akin to a prisoner of war camp because it allowed freedom of dress and freedom of movement within the prison grounds. He spent four years there. After less than a year back on the streets, Sands was arrested in 1977 for gun possession near the scene of an IRA bombing and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Because the British government had enacted a policy of “criminalization” of Irish terrorists in 1976, Sands was imprisoned as a dangerous criminal in the Maze Prison south of Belfast. During the next few years, from his cell in the Maze, he joined other imprisoned IRA terrorists in protests demanding restoration of the freedoms they had previously enjoyed under special category status. In 1980, a hunger strike lasted 53 days before it was called off when one of the protesters fell into a coma. In response, the British government offered a few concessions to the prisoners, but they failed to deliver all they had promised and protests resumed. Sands did not take a direct part in the 1980 strike, but he acted as the IRA-appointed leader and spokesperson of the protesting prisoners. On March 1, 1981 (the fifth anniversary of the British policy of criminalization) Bobby Sands launched a new hunger strike. He took only water and salt, and his weight dropped from 70 to 40 kilos. After two weeks, another protester joined the strike, and six days after that, two more. On April 9, in the midst of the strike, Sands was elected to a vacant seat in the British Parliament from Fermanagh and South Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Parliament subsequently introduced legislation to disqualify convicts serving prison sentences for eligibility for Parliament. His election and fears of violence after his death drew international attention to Sands’ protest. In the final week of his life, Pope John Paul II sent a personal envoy to urge Sands to give up the strike. He refused. On May 3, he fell into a coma, and in the early morning of May 5 he died. Fighting raged for days in Belfast, and tens of thousands attended his funeral on May 7. After Sands’ death, the hunger strike continued, and nine more men perished before it was called off on October 3, 1981, under pressure from Catholic Church leaders and the prisoners’ families. In the aftermath of the strike, the administration of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher agreed to give in to several of the protesters’ demands, including the right to wear civilian clothing and the right to receive mail and visits. Prisoners were also allowed to move more freely and no longer were subject to harsh penalties for refusing prison work. Official recognition of their political status, however, was not granted.

(via oaken-shield)

Guantánamo hunger strike to expose Ensure as a health hazard


Images emerging Friday from inside Guantánamo Bay Detention Center may ultimately backfire on “Ensure” manufacturer, as hunger-striker’s conditions worsen.

As the Obama administration’s reputation continues slowly deteriorating in the eyes of the American people, so too do the conditions at the Cuban prison Obama used as a high-profile talking point, during his campaign for the White House, over five years ago. One of the many promises made that continue to go unfulfilled.

But four and a half years into actually having the ability to do something about practices he so openly deemed unethical and examples of “un-American-like values” during the previous administration, the “habeas corpus” he argued for, in the run up to his 2009 inauguration, remains non-existent and the situation at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility continues to defy all ethical and humane standards, or worse.

In addition to the inhumane effectsindefinite detention plays on the human psyche by itself, the religious disrespect prisoners there are treated with has caused more than 100 of the 166 inmates at the facility to feel a hunger-strike and, if necessary, death from a lack of food as being their only way out.

Not only was the idea of habeas corpus actually stripped from the America people themselves, with Obama’s yearly re-authorization of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the government continues to push their cynically twisted version of reality, which now includes the notion that the forced feeding of a mentally competent individual is somehow an act of kindness. At least, that’s how it’s spun now that at least 23 of those inmates must be force-fed to keep them alive, almost three months into the strike.

By stating, “We will not allow a detainee to starve themselves to death, and we will continue to treat each person humanely,” Lt. Col. Samuel House, the prison spokesperson, made the case that not only are they not allowed to leave, the inmates, many of which found to be completely innocent of any wrong-doing and their only crime is that of being born and raised in a Muslim country with Muslim values, are not even allowed to decide if they will or will not eat.

Rivaling the idea of what hell must truly be like, all sense of freedom and humanity has been stripped from sovereign individuals that are not even allowed to die, if they wish, with dignity.

In the real world, doctors and government officials are expected to know that the forced feeding of an individual, who has exercised their right to refuse to eat, is not only completely against all medical standards, but simply an unethical act that no medical professional or person of authority should ever dream of authorizing or administering against a competent individual that has made that decision on their own. Even the US Supreme Court has routinely ruled against officials keeping people alive against their will, on every occasion the situation has come up, ruling it generally unconstitutional to force such actions against a sovereign individual.

Unfortunately, the abuse doesn’t stop there, however. As if actions such as water-boarding and the like isn’t already horrific enough to imagine, adding insult to injury, almost as if the entire operation is someone’s idea of a sick and morbid joke, the government’s so-called act of kindness toward the Guantánamo prisoners is not just the gift of being force-fed, but forcefully fed with none other than Abbott Laboratories’ enteral formula, Ensure.

As if the horrific conditions at Guantánamo were not almost as bad as it gets; the sensory and sleep deprivation, the uncomfortably cold cell temperatures, the physical and psychological torture, etc., it is also reported that, since 2005, hunger-striking inmates have been restrained in padded wheelchairs, while a tube is inserted into their nose and pushed down their throat, so they can be forced fed with the formula. The feedings can take place twice a day with reportedly the same tubes covered in bile and blood. Journalists have also been told this procedure by itself constitutes an extraordinarily painful and torturous activity, aside from what the formula itself is doing to their bodies.

To the average consumer who has been subjected to the relentless television, radio and print campaigns that not only advertise Ensure as the “#1 doctor recommended brand,” but as “a source of complete and balanced nutrition,” this may seem like a great choice for anyone suffering from the debilitating effects of starvation. Interestingly however, the ads fail to inform consumers that the listed ingredients for Ensure are far from what any normal person should ever ingest and certainly not anything you would want to administer to a weak, fasting or starving, individual that hasn’t eaten for weeks or months. To get a better understanding of what this really means, we must examine what Ensure really has to offer.

Marketed as the golden standard of complete nutrition, of the nine major ingredients making up the bulk of Ensure’s “Nutrition Shake,” the specific product being given the starving Guantánamo detainees, the top three are water, corn maltodextrin and sugar (aka, water, sugar and sugar), with the rest consisting of a mixture of GMO soy-based protein and milk and pea protein concentrates, topped off with a dash of GMO rapeseed oil, normally marketed as “Canola oil” in stores.

In addition to a small amount of corn oil (also likely made from GMO corn), artificial flavors and a load of preservatives that keep the drink from going rancid in the bottle, the mixture can only be seen as toxic concoction of slow-poisoning, rather than a source of living nutrition, designed to keep someone healthy and vibrant. This likens the product to that of an overpriced soft drink and far from anything that can be honestly called nutritional.

Even the synthetically-derived “vitamins” in the product, such as Ascorbic Acid, sold as Vitamin C and Cyanocobalamin, sold as Vitamin B12, are known to cause more problems within the human body than they can possibly help.

Considering that Ensure is being marketed and consumed primarily to the elderly, the sick and now starving inmates at Guantánamo, it should also be noted that the food additive Carrageenan, found in Ensure, has been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation and has been banned from infant formula in Europe.

In addition to the brutality that is forced feeding and the absolute joke that is feeding them something as pathetic as Ensure, the inmates also face the many adverse effects associated with tube feeding and enteral formulas, like Ensure.

Among the many side effects of consuming a product like Ensure on a regular bases, according to Drugs.com, the most common are Confusion; convulsions (seizures); decrease in urine volume; dryness of mouth; frequent urination; increased thirst; irregular heartbeat; mood or mental changes; muscle cramps or pain; numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or lips; respiratory distress, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; unexplained nervousness; unusual tiredness or weakness; weakness or heaviness of legs; weak pulse.

There has already been multiple deaths reported to have occurred by detainees who were previously on hunger strikes, as far back as 2006. Although the deaths were initially reported as suicides, a whistleblower and former Sargent that worked in the facility came forward to admit the initial reports were a cover-up and the result of something else entirely.

But now that the vast majority of the detainees have decided to join in on the mass hunger strike, the public at large may soon realize the sick joke that is feeding them something like Ensure and, for that matter, the sick joke that is doctors reccomending it be fed to the masses, especially as a source of viable nutrition for those that need it the most.

via Guantánamo hunger strike to expose Ensure as a health hazard – National Holistic Health | Examiner.com.

via Guantánamo hunger strike to expose Ensure as a health hazard – National Holistic Health | Examiner.com.

Guantánamo Bay hunger strike: Do hunger strikes usually work?


One hundred detainees at Guantánamo Bay continued their hunger strike on Wednesday, even though President Obama renewed his promise to close the prison. Are hunger strikes usually successful?

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It depends on how you define success. Hunger strikers sometimes win clear victories. Scholars credit suffragette Marion Wallace-Dunlop with the first political hunger strike of modern times—and it was a smashing success. After her 1909 arrest for stenciling a portion of the British Bill of Rights on an outer wall of the House of Commons, Wallace insisted that she be treated as a political prisoner rather than an ordinary criminal. She refused food for nearly four days. Fearing for her life, the authorities released her from prison altogether, going well beyond her demands. There are, in contrast, plenty of failed hunger strikes, such as Dan Choi and James Pietrangelo’s 2010 fast to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The pair abandoned the hunger strike after a week, and the rule remained in place for more than a year after that. While such cases of clear winners and losers are salient, the outcome of many—perhaps most—hunger strikes is more difficult to call.

In March 1981, Irish nationalist prisoners in Northern Ireland embarked on a hunger strike for the same reason that Wallace-Dunlop did in 1909: to be treated as political prisoners. That would mean the right to wear civilian clothes, the right to education and recreational opportunities, freedom from work obligations, and a set of other benefits not afforded to other inmates. The hunger strikers gained so much renown that Bobby Sands, the most famous of them, was elected to Parliament during the protest. By Oct. 3, when the protest ended, 10 of the strikers were dead, including Sands. The British government eventually granted most of the prisoners’ requests, and public opinion shifted massively in favor of the protesters.

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Muddled endings are more common than deaths. Hundreds of Kurdish prisoners embarked on a hunger strike late last year and demanded, among other things, that high-profile inmate Abdullah Öcalan be released from solitary confinement. Öcalan called the fast to an end after 68 days, when the government finally agreed to allow Kurdish people the right to speak Kurdish in Turkish courts. Öcalan himself, however, remained in solitary confinement. (A recent deal between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatists may soon change Öcalan’s imprisonment status.)

It’s hard to calculate a winning strategy for hunger strikers, but a few themes emerge. The first rule of hunger striking is to have a demand that is reasonably achievable within the time frame of a hunger strike. That means around 60 days if the hunger striker is refusing all nutrition. Those who allow themselves sweetened coffee or energy drinks can go significantly longer, building up publicity and pressure on the opposition. That tactic recently paid off for William Lecuyer, a New Jersey inmate who was placed in solitary confinement for refusing to submit a urine sample. Lecuyer insisted that the failure was the guard’s fault—he allegedly made Lecuyer wait so long that he had to empty his bladder before the test—and Lecuyer consumed only liquids for more than a year. The Department of Corrections finally caved in March and promised a new hearing for Lecuyer, who has lost nearly one-half of his body weight.

Choi and Pietrangelo’s failed protest against the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy illustrates the second rule of hunger striking: It works best as a last resort. A hunger strike is an appeal to the public. If people perceive a hunger strike as frivolous, possibly because less-risky alternatives were available, they’re unlikely to blame the government. That’s why inmates are among the few people who can launch a successful hunger strike.

These rules don’t apply to the famous and powerful. If you’re Gandhi, the world is so worried about your health that any threat of self-harm is taken seriously from the beginning.

via Guantánamo Bay hunger strike: Do hunger strikes usually work? – Slate Magazine.

via Guantánamo Bay hunger strike: Do hunger strikes usually work? – Slate Magazine.

Tensions Grow as Gitmo Hunger Strike Continues


Tensions Grow as Gitmo Hunger Strike Continues

Detainees Frequently Fainting as Health Worsens

Less than a week after a violent crackdown on detainees, Guantanamo Bay has a new problem, as hunger strikes are taking their toll and more and more prisoners are in failing health.

Code yellow,” an emergency where a prisoner has lost consciousness, is now a regular event in the cellblocks, forcing medics to rush in and see if the detainee is still alive, or just passed out from hunger. So far, it has been the later, but as the strike continues it will eventually lead to deaths.

Over 100 prisoners are now believed to be involved in the hunger strike, which began in February to protest the confiscation of detainees’ Qurans during a security sweep. The Pentagon initially claimed only nine strikers, but now admit to over 50. They claim the rest aren’t “official” hunger strikers, and accused them of “cheating” and sneaking snacks.

Lawyers and human rights groups have urged reforms at the prison to end the strike, as well as releasing people already exonerated instead of just keeping them forever. The military seems to be taking the opposite approach, punishing strikers and putting everyone in solitary cells in the hopes of scaring them into abandoning the strike. With many detainees already cleared for release and apparently going nowhere, they remain convinced they have nothing to lose.

Guantanamo hunger strike grows in scale


A hunger strike by the detainees at the United States infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba continues to grow in scale, with defense lawyers voicing alarm.

The lawyers said they were concerned about the critical health condition of the prisoners, who began the hunger strike on February 6.

They also said the majority of the 166 detainees held at the base stopped eating and many lost dangerous amounts of weight and were now being forced-fed through the nose.

The lawyers also noted that the lack of drinkable water had led to medical conditions affecting the kidneys, urinary system, and the stomach of the prisoners on strike.

The hunger strike began after the Gitmo staff reportedly seized their personal belongings of the inmates, including letters, photographs and copies of the Holy Qur’an in a sacrilegious manner during searches of their cells.

The prisoners are also protesting against their indefinite detention without charge or trial.

An attorney representing thirteen hunger striking prisoners said on Saturday that the inmates were prepared to die if their demands are not met.

“Suffering for these years, the torture, the isolation, the brutality by the guards have made it intolerable to the point where so many of the prisoners have decided that they will try until death,” said Gloria La Riva with Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition.

Reports show that only six of the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison or one in 28 are facing trial. Close to 90 of the prisoners, or more than one in two, have been cleared for release. The United States, however, continues to keep them locked up and has no imminent plans of letting them go.

US President Barack Obama had vowed to close the Guantanamo Bay prison as a main premise for his first term election. The facility, however, remains open five years later.

MN/HN

via PressTV – Guantanamo hunger strike grows in scale.

via PressTV – Guantanamo hunger strike grows in scale.

Three Hospitalized as Gitmo Hunger Strike Continues to Worsen


Hunger strikes among an estimated 100 detainees have continued to worsen, with the military now conceding that as many as 28 are “officially” hunger striking, and three of the detainees have been hospitalized as their conditions deteriorate. 10 others are also being force-fed.

The deteriorating health is largely what was expected, as hunger strikers have been taking water, but no food for months, and medical experts have warned that permanent consequences could happen soon, with deaths possible in a matter of weeks.

The hunger strikes began after the confiscation of several detainees’ Qu’rans, and is continuing with many detainees resenting being held without charges more or less forever.

The military has been very slow in recognizing strikers, and even today continues to insist that it believes many of the detainees are “cheating” and sneaking snacks when they aren’t looking.

The “not looking” factor has been the Pentagon’s go-to excuse for not recognizing the strikers as real, insisting that they deliver communal meals and don’t really keep an eye on who is eating and who isn’t, and insisting that the numbers cited by human rights lawyers are “exaggerated.” Yet with Pentagon recognitions jumping several-fold in the past week, they are rapidly coming to admit the problem.

With many of the detainees already approved for release, it would be a particular embarrassment if some of them began dying in hunger strikes simply because the Obama Administration hasn’t gotten around to letting them go for so long. This was a driving factor behind not admitting the problem was real in the first place, but with it clearly not going away, there will hopefully be some move to give in to detainee demands.

via Three Hospitalized as Gitmo Hunger Strike Continues to Worsen — News from Antiwar.com.

via Three Hospitalized as Gitmo Hunger Strike Continues to Worsen — News from Antiwar.com.

 

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