World Bulletin / News Desk
Emad Abdallah Hassan, a 34 year old Yemeni national, has been detained by the US government in Guantanamo Bay for over 10 years, almost a third of his life. In peaceful protest against his ongoing detention without trial, where he is subject to abuse, Emad has spent most of these years on hunger strike. Incredibly, the US government cleared Emad for release several years ago but he is still detained and subject to continued abuse.
Despite his worryingly frail health, Emad wrote this letter to his lawyers for the twelfth anniversary of Guantanamo. The Middle East Monitor published the letter on its website.
Here we are in Guantánamo as we come to the 12th anniversary of this terrible place. The treatment here is often described by the public relations officer as next door to perfect. Indeed, now I am into my seventh year of being force fed, it's quite a Club Med holiday camp!
We heard some good news about President Obama wanting to send people home, but we do not want to hang our hopes on it. Hope is like a mirage; you can see it, but can't touch it.
It does not really need to be said, but it is a grave violation of professional ethics for doctors to participate in torture or cruel treatment. Surely health care professionals should not condone any deliberate infliction of pain and suffering on detainees? This would seem to be a fairly basic proposition.
Yet who is better than a doctor to cause excruciating pain without damaging the body? There is a wide divergence here between the morality of a doctor's role and the reality of his actions. It is very, very sad. When a surgeon no longer uses his scalpel to cure a disease, he becomes no better than a butcher.
In 2005, when the doctors were still human beings, the hunger strikers didn't worry about their health because there was level of trust with the medical team. One of the doctors refused to go along with force feeding, because he believed that his medical ethics were more important than the order of a military colonel. But then things changed. The military only recruited doctors who agreed, before they arrived here, that a military order was more important than morality. The new wave of doctors allowed the military officers to instruct them on how to conduct the medical procedure of force feeding.
As a child, I was taught to disdain German doctors for what they did in World War II, experimenting on prisoners. Yet here the doctors now experiment to try to find the best way to force us to bend to the military's will: is it more effective for them to make the force feeding process more painful, by forcing the liquid down my nose faster and by pulling the 110 centimeter tube out of my nostril after every feed? Or, is it more effective to refuse my request for a blanket to keep me warm, now that my weight has fallen so low? They experiment all the time, and this is virgin territory for experimental science, since no other doctor would be allowed to force feed a prisoner at all.
But in recent days, sad to say, I have seen the truly ugly faces of those doctors, nurses, and other medical staffers. I have been subjected to a novel regime for 36 days. This new system is not an occasionally "uncomfortable procedure," as the public relations has described it. No, it has been a HORRIFIC, BARBAROUS TORTURE. I am not even sure I can find the words to tell you truly what it is like...
It is difficult to take it anymore. First they force the 110 centimeter tube in me. They cannot do it in the right nostril any more, as that is now firmly closed up. So they have to force it up the left nostril. It is very painful these days, but that is no bar to medical practice. They used to leave the tube in so that we did not have to undergo this pain, but then a general said they wanted to make our peaceful protest less 'convenient,' so they came up with the less 'convenient' system of pulling the tube out each time.
That has been a technique since 2006, so it is nothing new. But the latest experiment is different. Now they begin with 1500cc of formula called TwoCal - four cans in the morning and four in the night, served up each time with 700cc of water. Once I finish each 'meal,' they fill the feed bag with 50cc of an anti-constipation medication and 450cc of water. As this scientific study shows - at least in the experience of this guinea pig, your correspondent - this method accelerates the stomach function and makes the hunger striker defecate on himself in the chair.
When this stage is complete, they add another 700cc of water - why? Have I not suffered enough? When I dared to ask this question, the medical professional answered sarcastically, "to wash the feeding bag." This process is completed in 30-45 minutes, which is much faster than before, but then why allow the detainee to be fed slowly when you could cause much more pain by speeding up the process? Yet it is not over quickly, as they leave you in the torture chair for two hours, suffering. Then they pull the tube out of your nose again, ready to force it back in for the next session.
If I vomit on myself at any time during the procedure, they start the atrocity all over again, though they don't necessarily let me wash off before it begins.
And that's exactly what has been happening to me every day, twice daily. Except for last night - which will long burn alive in my memory. But I will write about it in the next message, God willing.
As you enjoy your holiday season, please spare a thought for those of us who continue to hold the embers, trying to keep the flame alive in Guantánamo Bay - even as the doctors try to break our peaceful hunger strike protest. And remember, if you will, that all we ask for is what President Obama keeps promising: freedom or a fair trial.
December 16th 2013
Emad Hassan (ISN 680, cleared for several years...)