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Force-Feeding Is Not Just for Guantanamo

Posted on Aug 22, 2013
MrPlow5 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

A California prison.

In response to the prison hunger strike that’s spread throughout California since the beginning of July, a federal judge ruled Monday that officials could force-feed the inmates. After seven grueling weeks, there are still 69 prisoners who are refusing to eat the facilities’ meals. Now, those near death or unconsciousness may be nourished intravenously, regardless of whether they signed “do not resuscitate” documents. As expected, prison officials are rejecting the obvious comparison being drawn with Guantanamo Bay. As the World Socialist Web Site reports:

Dr. Steven Tharratt, director of medical services for the federal official tasked with overseeing all medical care in California’s prison system, [stated] “It’s not really force-feeding at that point. It doesn’t evoke images of Guantanamo Bay or anything like that. It’s actually a totally different setting.”

However, Joyce Hayhoe, a spokesperson for the California Correctional Health Care Services, has said that the CDCR would not rule out a scenario where inmates could be force-fed using feeding tubes inserted through their nasal passage, as was done at Guantanamo Bay.

Force-feeding, according to Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, is a violation of international law. “If it’s perceived as torture or inhuman treatment––and it’s the case, it’s painful––then it’s prohibited by international law.”

Call force-feeding by any other name and it’s still an egregious breach of human rights.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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