The practice of force-feeding prisoners on a hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay has not raised medical concerns from prison doctors, The Associated Press reports.
To prevent the strikers from starving to death, military medical personnel have been using nasal feeding tubes to nourish immobilized prisoners, which Navy Captain Robert Durand, a spokesman for the prison, has referred to as a “lawful order.”
One-hundred four of 166 prisoners are participating in the hunger strike, which has been going on for nearly four months.
The American Medical Association wrote to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel decrying the practice of force-feeding.
Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein agrees with the AMA and wrote to Hagel upon returning from a recent visit to the prison.
“The current approach raises very important ethical questions,” she wrote, according to the AP.
Navy lieutenant commander Walter Ruiz, a lawyer representing a prisoner who has occasionally denied to eat and has been force-fed, asked the judge, Army colonel James Pohl, to ban the practice in a pretrial hearing this week.
“The reality is that it’s not the preservation of a life. It’s the preservation of existence,” Ruiz said. “There is no life. In essence, by keeping these people here we have already killed their soul, and their spirit and taken away their dignity.”
Ruiz’s appeal was dismissed.