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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 hunger strike: Lawyers and human rights groups say it is just a matter of time before the detainees start to die


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Emaciated and frail, more than 100 men lie on concrete floors of freezing, solitary cells in Guantánamo, silently starving themselves to death.

 

Stripped of all possessions, even basics such as a sleeping mat or soap, they lie listlessly as guards periodically bang on the steel doors and shout at them to move an arm or leg to prove they are still conscious.

The notorious detention centre is in crisis, suffering a rebellion of unprecedented scale, with most of the camp on lockdown and around two-thirds of the 166 detainees on hunger strike.

This week 40 American military nurses were drafted in to try to stem a mass suicide. The last Brit inside, Shaker Aamer, has said he is prepared to strike to his death.

The US administration does its best to keep prying eyes from the unfolding tragedy but the The Independent has obtained first-hand reports.

Twice a day, the 23 most weak are taken into a room. Their wrists, arms, stomach, legs and head are strapped to a chair and repeated attempts are made to force a tube down their noses into their stomachs. It is an ugly procedure as they gag and wretch, blood dripping from their nostrils. “They won’t let us live in peace and now they won’t let us die in peace,” said detainee, Fayiz Al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti held for 11 years without charge.

Four are so ill that they lie in shackles in the hospital wing and insiders predict it is only a matter of time before one perishes.

“It is possible that I may die in here,” said Mr Aamer, 44, through his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, recently. “I hope not, but if I do die, please tell my children that I loved them above all else, but that I had to stand up for the principle that they cannot just keep holding people without a trial, especially when they have been cleared for release,” said the father of four, who remains in Camp 5 despite being approved for release more than five years ago. “Sad to say, torture and abuse continue in Guantánamo Bay and the US is throwing away yet more of its dwindling moral authority,” added Mr Stafford Smith.

he protest, which began on 6 February, has now spread through Camp 6 and Camp 5 with an estimated 100 to 130 taking part. These are not the high value detainees kept in Camp 7, the handful charged with terror offences. The hunger strikers are those who have waited a decade or more without trial, including 86 cleared for release but remain trapped because of restrictions imposed by Congress.

As President Barack Obama pledged to press for Guantánamo’s closure this week, detainees described how it has gone back to the draconian regime of the Bush administration.

“Defence lawyers have tried to engage in constructive dialogue but we have been met with resistance and silence,” explained US Army Captain Jason Wright, a lawyer who described seeing his client Obaidullah, now a 115lb “bag of bones” , a few days ago as “extremely distressing”.

“I have pain in waist, dizziness. I cannot sleep well. I fell [sic] hopeless. I cannot exercise. My muscle become weaker in the last 50 days. I have thrown up five times,” wrote Obaidullah, a 32-year-old Afghan who has never been charged despite 11 years imprisonment.

“When I walked into the room he was demonstrably changed. He said, ‘They won’t treat us with dignity, they are treating us like dogs’. There is an urgency. It is clear that if this hunger strike continues there will be deaths. These men are going to die in this prison for nothing. It is an absolute outrage,” said Capt Wright.

“The hunger strike is a political protest. The fact that they are being treated in this manner is contrary to international law and un-American,” he added. The protest began on 6 February when, according to lawyers, the new administration decided to end “an era of permissiveness” and take a more punitive approach, in contravention with the Geneva Convention, which calls for preventative detention. Guards confiscated all “comfort items” but what inflamed inmates most was a search of their Korans, an act the administration denies.

Prisoners began writing SOS on the outside of their cells but the protest passed peacefully until 13 April when guards used rubber bullets to move inmates from communal cell blocks, where they had covered cameras, and some responded with “improvised weapons” such as broom handles.

First-hand reports this week reveal that most prisoners are now being held in solitary confinement in empty, windowless cells just 12ft by 8ft. Clean water is rationed, they say, and they have been stripped off all possessions.

They complain the air-conditioning has been turned up to an icy level, guards deliberately disturb prayer times and turn up throughout the night to take them for showers.

Describing sleeping on a concrete floor, using his shoes as a pillow, Moroccan Younous Chekkouri said via phone to his lawyers at the charity Reprieve: “Pain starts immediately when I’m on the floor. Pain in my neck, pain in my chest. Finally at night they gave us blankets. It was very cold. Water is now a privilege. They are treating us like animals,” he added. “I thought my torture had ended, but what is happening now is horrible.”

Amnesty was among several human rights organisations to describe the situation at the camp in Cuba as “at crisis point” this week while UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez condemned the continued detention as “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.

Omar Deghayes, 43, a British  resident who was released without charge in 2007, recalled the effect of two shorter hunger strikes. Lying in a “fridge-like” cell, he said he could barely stand within four days and was consumed with hunger and pains.

“You start to hallucinate. When people talk to you, you can’t understand them. I started to hear voices. Then I started to vomit blood and puss. Your stomach contracts and when they force feed large quantities, you can’t control anything, you get diarrhoea on your trousers. They take you into the yard and hose you down.”

Most people cannot survive losing more than 40 per cent of their body weight. Once fat stores are depleted, the body begins to consume the muscles and vital organs for energy. A large number on the current hunger strike have lost around a third of their body weight. While some are keeping alive by using a vitamin and mineral drink, 23 are now being force-fed.

Lieutenant Colonel Barry Wingard, a lawyer who visited Mr Al-Kandari, this week, explained: “He said they strap you to a chair, tie up your wrists, your legs, your forehead and tightly around the waist. The tube makes his eyes water excessively and blood begins to trickle from the nose. Once the tube passes his throat the gag reflex kicks in. Warm liquid is poured into the body for 45 minutes to two hours. He feels like his body is going to convulse and often vomits.

“He is emaciated, down from 150lb to 100lb. He can’t walk. He finds is difficult to concentrate. He burps all the time as his stomach eats itself,” added the US Air Force officer, who described the treatment as “beyond hypocrisy”.

The Department of Defence said yesterday it used enteral feeding only when a detainee’s life was in danger. Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale added detainees had the highest standards of humane treatment.

“Detainees are not punished for hunger striking. However, we will not allow them to harm themselves,” he said, adding: “We will not allow them to commit suicide by starving themselves to death.”

Prisoners complain, however, that instead of leaving the tube in, they reinsert it twice a day. Dr Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association, wrote to Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel recently to complain that force feeding was in violation of medical ethics.

Capt Wright, who travelled on the same plane as the nurses, said this week: “I can’t imagine they understood what they are being asked to do for their country. I don’t think they knew how horrific it would be. I hope some of them have the courage to say no.”

via Guantánamo hunger strike: Lawyers and human rights groups say it is just a matter of time before the detainees start to die – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.

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