World Bulletin/News Desk
The Navy sent extra medical personnel to the Guantanamo detention camp because of a growing hunger strike, and the American Medical Association questioned whether doctors were violating their ethics by force-feeding prisoners.
The reinforcements arrived at the weekend and included about 40 nurses, specialists and hospital corpsmen, who are trained to provide basic medical care, Army Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House, a spokesman for the detention camp said, said on Monday.
He said 100 of the 166 detainees had joined a hunger strike that began in February to protest their continued detention at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in eastern Cuba. Twenty-one of those had lost enough weight that they were being fed liquid supplements via tubes inserted in their noses and down into their stomachs, House said.
Five were in the hospital for observation but did not have life-threatening conditions, he said.
On Thursday, the president of the American Medical Association sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reiterating its long-held position that it is a violation of medical ethics to force-feed mentally competent adults who refuse food and life-saving treatment.
The letter from the AMA's president, Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, stopped short of asking Hagel to halt force-feedings at Guantanamo.
It urged the defense secretary "to address any situation in which a physician may be asked to violate the ethical standards of his or her profession."
Asked if military doctors had raised ethical concerns about being asked to perform force-feedings, Pentagon spokesman Army Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale said, "I can tell you there have been no organized efforts, but I cannot speak for individual physicians.
Military officials say the feedings are done gently, using soft, flexible, lubricated tubes.
Attorney David Remes, who was notified by the military that his Yemeni client, Yasin Ismael, was being tube-fed, gave a starkly different description.
"It can be extremely painful. One of my clients said that it's like having a razor blade go down through your nose and into your throat," Remes said.
He said detainees who resist tube-feedings were forcibly removed from their cells by soldiers in riot gear. "It's really like the way you would treat an animal," he said.Last Mod: 30 Nisan 2013, 14:21