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Hunger-striking Guantánamo detainees seek end to force-feedings for Ramadan

A lawsuit filed on behalf of four Guantánamo detainees asks a federal judge to order a halt to force-feedings and forcible drugging in advance of the religious fast during Ramadan, which begins July 8. They and about 40 others are on hunger strike to protest their indefinite detentions.

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Longtime prisoners on hunger strike at the Guantánamo detention camp for terrorism suspects are asking a federal judge to order the US government to stop forcibly drugging them and to stop force-feeding them in advance of the religious fast during Ramadan.

The month-long fast, celebrated by all Muslims, is set to begin with the new moon on July 8. 

The motion was filed Sunday. It asks the judge to block US officials from continuing to administer a drug said to cause dangerous side effects. Prolonged use of the drug, Reglan, may cause a neurological muscular disorder similar to Parkinson’s disease, lawyers for the detainees say. It can also trigger depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide, they argue. 

On Monday, US District Judge Rosemary Collyer gave the government two days, until July 3, to respond with its own motion.

The action was filed by lawyers with the London-based group Reprieve on behalf of four Guantánamo detainees.

“Being strapped to a chair and having a tube forcibly inserted through one’s nostrils and into one’s stomach is dishonorable and degrading. It falls within the ambit of torture or other forms of inhumane treatment,” the motion says in part.

“In the long history of American detention of the enemy, bodily invasions of this character have never been the routine business of the prisoner of war camp,” the motion says.

The motion adds that the forced administration of the drug Reglan in conjunction with the forced feeding violates the detainees’ right to refuse a drug “that poses a significant risk of adverse side effects from prolonged use.”

The practice is inhumane, violates human rights and medical ethics, and serves no legitimate penological interest, according to the motion.

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