More than 60 days ago, a number of prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay Prison started a hunger strike (Now 84 of them). Some of you might be wondering, “hey mike, didn’t President Obama plan to shut down that prison in 2010?” Well, you would be partially correct in your analysis, our Nobel Peace Prize winning President did promise to close it down…only it hasn’t happened yet.
When I first read about the brief clash and the hunger strike, it upset me. Not because I was surprised or shocked that the situation at Gitmo would escalate to this, but because I forgot about the prison completely. I was shamefully ignorant to our ongoing injustices taking place there. We are still indefinitely holding prisoners with no trial, and now we’re torturing them to the point of open defiance, great.
After coming to this realization, I looked around to see where I could find some first-account details of force-feeding. For those of you who don’t know what entails being force-fed, it basically consists of being strapped down while having a tube shoved up your nose, down your mouth, or into your arm (IV) through which it will pump food/nutrients. For those of you that are visual learners, here’s a picture:
But why stop there? I thought for the sake of pure enjoyment I’d look up a description of the kind of torture used to deal with hunger strike prisoners. Here’s an excerpt:
“The assaultive nature of the force-feeding process was by all accounts a torturous experience for the prisoners, one that they withstood repeatedly. Verbal techniques of psychological duress also were used to weaken the prisoner’s resolve. Isolated from one another, some prisoners were told falsely during their force-feedings that they were the only person still maintaining the hunger strike–claims that they knew not to believe.” (Full Article Here)
Wait a second, isn’t that an excerpt from the Library of Congress’ account of the hunger strikes during the Suffrage movement? Well shucks, looks like we’ve been here before; and all I had to do was change the word “women” to “prisoners”. The practice of force-feeding was a catalyst to agenda of Alice Paul/Lucy Burns and the NWP. You’d expect that our Government would’ve figured out an effective way to deal with it humanely after so much practice in dealing with non-violent protest techniques throughout the Suffrage and Civil Rights Movements. Alas, we’re continuing to rely on techniques denounced by most international medical groups, including the International Red Cross. *
If we don’t force feed them, they’ll die, which of course the government can’t allow to happen. But herein lies the heart of this kind of protest; for oppressors, the hunger strike is unsolvable within their paradigm of responses. We cannot accept the hunger strike as a problem that needs to be solved, it is in fact, a symptom of the true problem: the unjust treatment and indefinite holding of prisoners without trial. If the government begins to treat these prisoners within the confines of the U.S. legal system, then we won’t have to worry about battling an uphill worldwide PR campaign of archaic torture…oh, and also it’s the humane and just thing to do.