Nearly 40 more “US Navy medical forces” have arrived at the notorious military prison camps in efforts to deal with the spreading hunger strike by what the prison authorities report as 100 detainees, over one-fifth of whom are being force-fed to keep them alive, US-based daily The Miami Herald reported Monday, citing the prison’s spokesman.
The “corpsmen, nurses, and other specialists” arrived at the naval base over the weekend “as part of a contingency during the ongoing hunger strike,” the report added, citing a statement by the spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Samuel House.
The figure offered by prison authorities, however, has been contested by a number of attorneys for the inmates who have put the number of Guantanamo hunger strikers at between 130 and all the 166 remaining detainees.
Col. House further pointed out that five of the hunger striking protester at the infamous prison have been transferred to the camp’s hospital but claimed that their conditions are not “life-threatening.”
The arrival of the US Navy medical force reinforcements at the military prison, meanwhile, coincided with a visit by International Red Cross delegates to inspect conditions at the Guantanamo detention camps and a report by the attorney for one of the hunger strikers subjected to force-feeding that the military medical forces at the facility have been using “an unnecessarily large feeding tube” on his Kuwaiti captive client.
Five Red Cross delegates arrived Friday and began work on Saturday on “an ad-hoc assessment visit,” the report adds, citing ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno, who declined to identify the nationalities of any of the team members.
“As always, the ICRC will address its findings confidentially and with US authorities only,” Schorno emphasized.
Meanwhile, the report adds, detainee Fayiz al-Kandari, 35, has been force-fed at the prison camp for a week, said his lawyer, federal public defender Carlos Warner, citing both a telephone conversation with his client and a notice from the Justice Department.
Warner added that Kandari had complained that the military is “using a Size 10 tube instead of Size 8,” which “makes it hard to breathe” because it’s “too big and induces vomiting.”
Col. House, however, insisted that “there is no ‘standard'” size of tube used in a nasogastric feeding at Guantanamo.
The development comes as the American Medical Association sent a letter to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday to point out the organization’s policy that force-feeding mentally competent adults that refuse food is a violation of medical ethics. The letter called on Hagel “to address any situation in which a physician may be asked to violate the ethical standards of his or her profession.”
Most of the 166 “terror suspects” held captive at Guantanamo military base have been in detention since early 2000s without charge or trial. Back in 2009, newly elected US President Barack Obama promised to shut down the infamous prison but four years on, the controversial facility remains open and reportedly expanding.