Videos open window on Guantanamo hunger strike
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba: The US military has long insisted it employs only humane methods to keep hunger-striking prisoners alive at Guantanamo. That assertion is under new scrutiny due to a judicial order.
Attorneys for a Syrian prisoner have begun studying hours of video showing him being removed from his cell, placed in a restraint chair and fed by a tube with liquid nutrients.
They are looking for evidence of what he has portrayed as abusive force-feeding, akin to torture, during the months that he has participated in a hunger strike that drew the attention of President Barack Obama and led to a renewed effort to close the prison on this US base in Cuba.
She lifted it a week later to avoid endangering his life from starvation, but ordered the military to turn over 34 videos of Dhiab being removed from his cell and fed. She has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to discuss the status of the case.
“It’s really kind of a modest thing to ask a court to order our military not to torture these men,” lawyer Jon Eisenberg said about both this prisoner, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, and others who have been fed through a nasal tube while on hunger strike.
Lawyers, who have never been allowed to witness the procedure in person, said they expected to study the first batch of videos, about 10 hours of them, over the weekend at a special facility for viewing classified evidence near the Pentagon. They also plan to seek videos of at least three other prisoners.
“Of course, I expect it to be upsetting,” said Cori Crider, a member of the legal team. “They say it’s humane, but that’s totally not the way Dhiab and dozens of other people have reported it to me.”
Military officials, who call the hunger strike a propaganda stunt, reject the phrase “force-feeding.” They say the video will show nothing more than guards and medical personnel doing their jobs in a difficult situation.