Gitmo Prisoner: US Is Now 'Starving Me to Death'

Disturbing column comes amid reports officials have stopped force-feeding hunger-strikers
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2017 2:19 PM CDT
Gitmo Prisoner: US Is Now 'Starving Me to Death'
In this March 30, 2010, file photo, reviewed by the US military, a US trooper stands in the turret of a vehicle with a machine gun, left, as a guard looks out from a tower at the detention facility of Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Multiple sources tell the New York Times that officials at Guantanamo Bay have started waiting longer before force-feeding hunger-striking prisoners, allowing their physical condition to deteriorate past the point that previously would have resulted in intervention. Per information received from detainees' lawyers, the Times says the change was implemented around Sept. 19. And in a column for the Guardian dictated to his lawyer, one prisoner agrees with that account and describes the situation as dire. "The 20 September was the day they told us they would no longer feed us. They have decided to leave us to waste away and die instead," writes Khalid Qasim. "There is a man who is in charge of all the medical staff. ... He was the one who called us all in and told us they would stop feeding us. As soon as he took over I knew he was bad news and now he has decided to end our lives."

Qasim—who has been locked up at Gitmo for 15 years, without ever being charged or given a trial, in what the Guardian says is a case of mistaken identity—says he's certain death will come soon, noting that even after he collapsed a week ago and was declared a "code yellow," he still received no treatment. He says the medical staff isn't even recording details of prisoners' conditions. "They intend to leave us until we lose a kidney or another organ. They will wait until we are damaged. Maybe until we are too damaged to live." A Navy spokesperson for the prison tells the Times the military policy permitting involuntary feeding of hunger strikers is still in effect, and that medical officials would tube-feed a detainee if necessary to prevent death, but a Pentagon spokesperson explains that prison officials decided to enforce the policy more rigorously, meaning they will be more strict about what health conditions make force-feeding medically necessary. (More Guantanamo Bay stories.)

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