We’ve been following the Guantanamo Bay prisoner hunger strikes for some time now, but the situation has inexplicably not improved. In fact, things have gotten so terrible that one of the nurses assigned to administer the force-feedings has declined to participate anymore.
The news comes from Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a man who has been detained at Guantanamo since 2002. Though officially cleared for release five years ago, Dhiab is still inexplicably being held against his will. He, along with many others who are no longer suspected of having terrorism ties, has gone on a hunger strike to protest their treatment and lack of due process. Rather than clearing the issue up, however, the U.S. has decided to force-feed the not-criminal prisoners instead.
Thus far, details on the disobedient nurse are limited. Although the nurse is believed to be a Navy medical officer, his name has not been publicized. However, an American official has confirmed that the story is legitimate. A Pentagon spokesperson acknowledged that an employee declined to perform this specific feeding task, so he was reassigned to other duties and someone else was ordered to do the feeding instead. Good to know that forced feedings are running on schedule without interruption!
According to Cori Crider, the lawyer of Dhiab, the nurse’s stance is a compassionate one. Dhiab conveyed to Crider that the nurse admitted he had one perception of the inmates and feeding before he started the job, and came to realize he couldn’t be complicit in force-feeding the prisoners anymore. “The nurse showed incredible courage,” said Crider. “To see the basic humanity of the prisoners and to recognize that force-feeding is wrong is a historic stand. It meant a great deal to my client and to the other cleared detainees who are hunger striking.”
If you need any more reason to understand why the force-feeding is unconscionable, look no further than Vice’s new report about the sudden change in feeding protocol. Over the years, nurses at Guantanamo Bay have used olive oil to lubricate the tube shoved into prisoners’ nostrils. It turns out, however, that injecting olive oil like that can cause major health problems like lipoid pneumonia.
Although use of olive oil has since been discontinued, Dr. Steven Miles, a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, is unimpressed. “The decision to use olive oil is a remarkable instance of negligent medical care in reckless disregard of standard medical practice which was defined to minimize risks.” In fact, Dr. Miles, it should have never been considered an option in the first place since regulations call for a water soluble solution to be utilized for such matters and olive oil is not even water soluble.
Of course, American officials wouldn’t even have to worry about having to force-feed prisoners cleared of terrorism connections if they just let them go. There’s no excuse to be detaining innocent men like Dhiab a full five years after they were cleared of wrongdoing.