CONTACT: Samantha Friedman, Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications

Office: (202) 265-3000 or cell: (202) 215-9260 or [email protected]

National anti-torture group opposes force-feeding of mentally competent detainees, calls for independent medical professionals to examine hunger striking prisoners at Guantanamo

WASHINGTON – In response to the force-feeding of hunger-striking detainees at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture today released a statement opposing the force-feeding of mentally competent detainees and calling for independent medical professionals to examine hunger striking prisoners. The statement also says that life sustaining intervention is permissible for detainees who are not mentally competent, but makes clear that such intervention should be focused on restoring those detainees to their full mental faculties. The text of the statement follows:

Today, 166 people are being held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. The vast majority have never been tried, convicted or even charged with any crime. More than half of them have been cleared for release or have been approved for transfer.

The detainees are being held indefinitely. Indefinite detention is not only harmful to the detainees themselves, it also diminishes the moral leadership of our nation, compromises our commitment to the rule of law, and undermines our struggle against terrorism.

Many of the Guantanamo detainees, in a nonviolent protest of their seemingly permanent detention without trial, joined a hunger strike that has been going on since February 2013. They have no other means of protesting their indefinite detention. The hunger strike is not an effort at suicide; instead, it is a means of expressing opposition to inhuman treatment. In addition to being detained without trial, many of the detainees have been tortured or abused during their time at Guantanamo.

The U.S. government has responded to the hunger strike by force-feeding more than 40 of the detainees – a painful practice that preserves life, but at the cost of the prisoner’s ability to make decisions about his or her own body. The procedure often involves shackling and strapping down the detainee as a tube is inserted through the nose into the stomach.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has stated its opposition to force-feeding. The 2006 revision of the Declaration of Malta of the World Medical Association states:

“Forcible feeding is never ethically acceptable. Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment. Equally unacceptable is the forced feeding of some detainees in order to intimidate or coerce other hunger strikers to stop fasting.”

Based on American Medical Association policy, Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, president of the AMA, wrote in an April 25, 2013, letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, “Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining interventions.”

Recognizing that every religion affirms the innate dignity and worth of every human being, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture opposes the force-feeding of all mentally competent prisoners who are capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of their refusing life-sustaining nourishment or other medical intervention.

Independent medical professionals should be allowed to evaluate the mental and physical status of hunger striking detainees at Guantanamo to determine whether force-feeding is medically appropriate.  If medical professionals determine that a detainee is not mentally competent and feeding intervention is medically necessary, force-feeding is permissible.  However, medical intervention should be focused on restoring those prisoners to their full mental faculties so that they can then make competent decisions about their medical treatment.

The root cause of the Guantanamo hunger strike is the continued detention of well over 100 prisoners without charge or trial. Most of the detainees have already been approved for transfer or release, and yet, they remain imprisoned with no anticipated end date. Now is the time for President Obama to transfer or release these detainees. The current crisis will be resolved only by transferring, releasing, or trying all the prisoners held at Guantanamo and finally ending this chapter in U.S. history.

 The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its formation in January 2006, more than 320 religious organizations have joined NRCAT, including representatives from the Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Baha’i, Buddhist, and Sikh communities. Members include national denominations and faith groups, regional organizations and local congregations.


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

GTMO has been open:

U.S. Hunger Strikers

Hunger Striker's Blog

 U.S. Faster in Solidarity w/Gitmo & Pelican Bay Prisoners


Foreground: EMT prepares the tool for the nasal intubation.       Background: U.S. Embassy, Buenos Aires, Argentina Middleground:...agony awaits. 

The feeding demo is extremely painful, yet it is done with consent. The long-term solidarity fast continues with nasogastric nourishment in front of U.S. governmental symbols of power. The twice-daily force-feeding of Gitmo hunger strikers is nonconsensual and therefore real torture by the standards sponsored by U.S. taxpayers and authorized by members of Congress who just raised the debt ceiling to nearly $17 trillion. President Obama's actions continue to belie his empty words "Close Guantánamo."  As Commander-in-Chief, he could easily order an end to what the Pentagon refuses to call "forced-feeding."   The force-feeding is premeditated  relentless forced penetration of plastic into their innermost sacred cavities !

Andrés Thomas Conteris - fasted on water and coconut water with vitamin and electrolyte supplements. Solidarity fast began July 8, 2013 with 30,000 hunger striking California prisoners urging fulfillment of 5 Core Demands of the Pelican Bay supermax prisoners.  Force-feeding protests began Sept. 6 & Sept. 25 in front of the White House & later in front of the Oakland Office of CA Dept of Corrections and Rehab (CDCR) to depict how prisoners in Guantánamo are tortured with force-feeding twice-daily and how CA prisoners as future hunger strikers have been threatened with a court order authorizing force-feeding.  On Oct 4 and Oct 8 he was tube-fed in front of the U.S. Embassies in Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina. On Oct 15 a similar protest took place in Santiago, Chile.  On Friday, Oct 18 the feeding protest returns to Washington, DC outside a Federal Court hearing on the lawsuit challenging force-feeding in Guantánamo.  He is now on a maintenance fast losing about 1 pound per week, unlike the 5 pounds/week the first 11 weeks.  In January 2014 with the anniversary of Guantánamo on Jan. 11, the force feeding protests will recommence.  Please spread the word. 

Join a Rolling Fast

U.S. Hunger Strikers who have suspended their fast






Diane Wilson - Water only 58 days (lost 48 lbs). Diane, co-founder of CodePink and member of Veterans for Peace, suspended her hunger strike on June 27, 2013 after detention following her arrest for scaling the White House fence the day before. She faced a jury trial in DC District Court on Sept. 5th, 2013.


S. Brian Willson - Suspended Hunger Strike on June 10, 2013 after 31 days on 300cal/day, when a car accidentally hit him. Supporters continue a vigil with a rolling fast, in Portland, OR.



Elliott Adams - Went 80 days on 300 cal/day from May 18, to August 4, 2013 losing 45 lbs.   He is past President of Veterans for Peace.







Tarak Kauff - Ended fast on August 4, 2013 after 58 days on 300 cal/day since June 7.  He lost 29 lbs. On Board of Directors for Veterans for Peace.


Cynthia Papermaster - After 84 days on 300 cal/day, Cynthia suspended her  hunger strike on Sep. 6 which began June 15, 2013. Code Pink member,  lost 35 lbs. The transfer of two Algerian prisoners on Aug. 29, 2013, inspired her to suspend her fast. 

Collaborative of Organizations

Arlington West Santa Monica

- Campaign for Alternatives to

   Isolated Confinement - NY

Close Guantá

Code Pink

Global Exchange

- Fast for the Earth

- The Jericho Movement

The Justice Campaign

The London Guantánamo


Meta Peace Team: "Pursuing peace

   through active nonviolence"

- Metta Center for Nonviolence


No more Guantánamos

Nonviolence International

Nuremberg Actions

Office of the Americas

Peaceworkers USA

Save Shaker

Stop Mass Incarceration

Witness Against Torture

The World Can't Wait

Veterans for Peace

Pelican Bay Hunger Strike

Daily Updates

RSS Feed via

Witness Against Torture feed-icon-28x28
<a class='rsswidget' href='' title='Syndicate this content'><img style='border:0' width='14' height='14' src='' alt='RSS' /></a> <a class='rsswidget' href='' title='Calling for an end to torture everywhere, on any person for any reason.'>Witness Against Torture</a>