A US Navy nurse has made history this week by refusing to force-feed prisoners on extended hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay, the first protest of its kind at the detention center, a rights lawyer and US official has said. The nurse is a courageous "hero,",according to the prisoner, never charged and qualified for release since 2009.
The unidentified nurse declined to force-feed after deciding it was a criminal act, said Cori Crider, a lawyer for the British charity legal rights group Reprieve, who spoke in a phone interview with the Guardian from London.
"This guy is basically a hero, and he should be permitted to give care to detainees that is ethically appropriate," Crider said.
This is the first time a nurse or doctor is known to have refused tube-feeding a prisoner, said Col Greg Julian, a spokesman for the Navy Southern Command, that oversees Guantánamo. The nurse was a lieutenant and had been assigned other duties at Guantánamo, he said.
"It's being handled administratively," Col. Julian said.
Guantánamo spokesman Capt Tom Gresback, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Crider said she learned about the case during a phone conversation with Abu Wa'el Dhiab, 42, a Syrian prisoner she represents, never charged and a candidate for release and resettlement since 2009.
She said Dhiab has been on hunger strike.
Dhiab told Crider in the 10 July phone call that he got to know the nurse well and that the nurse had been the leader of a medical group for two to three months.
"Even before his decision, though, you could tell he was very compassionate," Crider quoted Dhiab as telling her, according to notes she shared of their conversation.
Dhiab said other medical officers had told prisoners that they did not like force-feeding but had no choice, Crider said.
"But this one soldier stood up and refused to do it. This takes real courage," Dhiab said, according to Crider.
"Refusing to force-feed us was a historical act and a strong statement," the prisoner said. "We were all amazed."
The American Medical Association's president has said force-feeding hunger strikers violates core ethical values. A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine urged Guantánamo's prison doctors to refuse to participate. Instead, the US continues the war crimes of force-feeding and torturing in other ways.
Some 166 men remain imprisoned at Guantanamo; 86 cleared for release. All are subjected to indefinite detention, costing $800,000 per year for each man at the Prisoner Of War prison where torture has been well documented and that President Barack Obama pledged to close on his first day of office in January 2009.
Instead, in March 2013, "representing everything wrong with the U.S. and Americans, Obama decided Guantanamo Bay Prison will remain open indefinitely."
Obama is violating international law at Guantanamo, according to the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay. Also condemning the United States for “continuing indefinite incarceration of many of the detainees,” Pillay said this “amounts to arbitrary detention,” a violation of international law, criminal.
Most people rendered (kidnapped) and interrogated (tortured) by the U.S. are people of color, innocent of terrorism. They are used at Guantanamo Bay camp for non-consensual human experimentation. (See AFP, Doctors had central role in CIA abuse: rights group, 1 Sept. 2009 and CIA doctors face human experimentation claims, 3 Sept. 2009)
"It’s going to take the American people to demand Guantanamo Bay prison facilities be closed," said former Gitmo prison official Ret. Col. Morris Davis in 2013.
Sources: The Guardian, Reprieve UK, Examiner.com
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