The US government has refused to stop force-feeding detainees on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay during the holy month of Ramadan.
In court papers rejecting a petition by four of more than 100 detainees said to be refusing food, the US said the feedings provided “essential nutritional and medical care” and would not interfere with religious observance of Ramadan, which begins on Monday.
Observant Muslims fast daily from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. Lawyers for President Obama also said that the “public interest lies with maintaining the status quo”.
Last month, Obama gave a speech in which he promised to work towards closing the base, and to allow the release of many of the 86 prisoners held there who have been cleared for transfer. He described the camp as a moral problem for the nation that had to be solved.
The feeding of detainees, via neogastric tube, will be carried out by the facility “before dusk and after sunset in order to accommodate their religious practices”, they said, “absent any unforeseen emergency or operational issues” […]
US government lawyers also argued that the detainees bringing the case, Shaker Aamer, Nabil Hadjarab, Ahmed Belbacha and Abu Wa’el Dhiab, are not “persons” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and are therefore not protected under it.
A group of detainees began a hunger strike in February this year, in protest at their detention. Some have been detained without trial for more than a decade. It also highlights Obama’s failure to deliver a 2008 campaign pledge to close the camp.
Aamar, who has spent 11 years without trial at the camp, despite being twice cleared for release, recently spoke of increasingly brutal tactics being used in an attempt to break the strike.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the US, reiterated its call on Monday for the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to stop.
Lawyers for the detainees described the tube feeding as “barbaric” and hit out at the failure of the US government to provide a specific guarantee that no feeding would happen during the day.
Cori Crider, counsel for the men and strategy director at Reprieve, said: “These are more weasel words from the Obama administration – they say they have ‘no plans’ to force-feed during the day in Ramadan, but give no guarantees. Meanwhile, on the eve of Independence Day, they ride rough-shod over the fundamental right of people to choose what goes into their bodies. “
Jon Eisenberg, US counsel for the men, said: "The Obama administration argues here that ‘the public interest lies with maintaining the status quo’. The status quo is that these men are being held indefinitely without any sort of trial, even though they were cleared for release years ago."
“Consider the irony of the Obama administration arguing here that the Guantánamo Bay detainees are not ‘persons’ within the scope of US law guaranteeing religious freedom, in a post-Citizens United world where even corporations are endowed with legal personhood.”
There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo, 106 of them are on hunger strike. Of those, 45 of them are being fed through tubes directly into the stomach, according to the court papers.
In its court filing, the US Department of Justice also denied claims that it was giving the drug Reglan to the detainees.
Read Whole: The Guardian
How noble of the US authorities (in the holiest month) to magnanimously ‘accommodate religious practices’ - of people, who they’ve deemed to be “not persons” despite being cleared for release, and whose lives they’ve otherwise destroyed - by (potentially) deferring their torture, until after sunset.