Beginning last February, more than 100 men at Guantánamo engaged in a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention. To try to break the protest, the US military subjected dozens of the hunger strikers to the cruel and degrading practice of nasogastric force-feeding.
On October 18, the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, DC heard a case, first ruled on in July, seeking an injunction against force-feeding at Guantánamo on the grounds that it violates human rights and the right of religious worship. This case goes to the heart of the evil of the prison, as it argues that the purpose of force-feeding is to sustain an illegal and immoral policy of indefinite detention.
Anti-torture groups packed the courtroom to show there support for the attorneys arguing the case and their clients at Guantanamo.
Andrés Thomas Conteris — on day 103 of a water-only fast — will undergoed a nasal tube feeding in solidarity with the men at Guantánamo and to dramatize the cruelty of force-feeding. Conteris, who has lost 57 pounds, has undergone nasogastric feedings at the White House, in Oakland, California, and at US embassies in Uruguay and Argentina. Conteris, age 52, began his fast at the height of the Guantánamo hunger strike July 8, when thousands of US prisoners began hunger striking to protest the use of extended solitary confinement at Pelican Bay and other prisons.
Seventeen men remain on hunger strike at Guantánamo, with sixteen force-fed. Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain, the American Medical Association, and the United Nations have all denounced force-feeding.
Prompted by the hunger strike and the global outcry against Guantánamo, President Obama on May 23, 2013 renewed his pledge to close the prison. Since that time, only two prisoners, both among the 86 long cleared for release by the US government, have been freed.
Witness Against Torture