WASHINGTON – Ahead of the month-long fast of Ramadan, which begins on Monday, Islamic community leaders have called on the Obama administration to rethink its policy of force-feeding hunger-striking detainees in Guantanamo.
"We believe it's wrong to force feed at any time but it is particularly upsetting to do it through Ramadan," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman of the largest US Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). He said the situation was Kafkaesque: "It's not just a religious issue; it's also a human rights issue in violation of international norms and medical ethics."
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Dr. Azzam Tamimi, an Islamic community leader in Britain, said he hoped the Obama administration would reconsider. "As Ramadan starts, this issue is becoming increasingly embarrassing for the US government; it's about time President Obama took a brave decision to end this in a way that would be appreciated around the Islamic world," he said.
'Restraint chair' in Gitmo (Photo: Gettyimages)
According to the Guardian, 106 Guantanamo detainees are on hunger strike in protest at their prolonged detention without trial. A lawsuit filed with a federal court in Washington last week argues that night-time feeding could lead to long periods without water, endangering the hunger strikers, the British daily said.
To mark the beginning of Ramadan, the human rights group Reprieve released to the Guardian a video in which the actor and rapper Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) submits himself to the enteral feeding imposed in Guantanamo. When the first tube was dislodged, he was unable to go ahead with a second attempt by the medical team to insert it.
The star said that he volunteered to be force-fed by two volunteer doctors to highlight what was happening to the hunger strikers in Guantanamo.
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