Hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is getting worse, thereby, prompting the U.S. Navy to send 40 nurses, specialists and hospital corpsmen to provide basic medical care to the detainees.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House, a spokesman for the detention camp, said earlier this week that 100 of the 166 detainees had joined the hunger strike that began in February to protest their continued detention at the U.S. military detainment and interrogation facility located in eastern Cuba. More than a dozen of those had to be force-fed, which according to military officials were done gently using soft, flexible, lubricated tubes.
On Thursday, April 25, the president of the American Medical Association (AMA) sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to say that it is a violation of medical ethics to force-feed mentally competent adults who refuse food and life-saving treatment, the Daily Mail reports.
Though it wasn’t clear whether Hagel has already seen the letter, a Pentagon spokesman said none of the military doctors at the detention camp has so far raised ethical concerns about being asked to perform force-feedings.
“I can tell you there have been no organized efforts, but I cannot speak for individual physicians,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale. “I can tell you that we will not allow detainees to harm themselves, and this includes attempts at suicide – including self-induced and peer-pressured starvation to death.”
All sides blame the ongoing hunger strike on the detainees’ frustration over the Obama administration’s failure to execute its promise to shut down the detention camp by 2010.