I have written before about the hunger strike being waged by over a hundred of the prisoners at Guantanamo and that the government is force-feeding them, a practice that is widely condemned as barbaric, as anyone would agree when one reads the description of it by one of the prisoners subjected to it.
We are now entering the period of Ramadan when observant Muslims are expected to refrain from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset, which is yet another of those idiotic and arbitrary rules that religions impose on their followers. So what is the government going to do about force-feeding during this period?
The feeding of detainees, via neogastric tube, will be carried out by the facility “before dusk and after sunset in order to accommodate their religious practices”, they said, “absent any unforeseen emergency or operational issues”.
Colonel Greg Julian, director of public affairs for US southern command, said: “We do not force-feed observant Muslims during daylight hours during Ramadan.”
So we have the spectacle of the US government willing to trample over the human rights of people in so many appalling ways being seemingly solicitous of a religious rule. Imprison people indefinitely, torture them, force-feed them, abuse them, but don’t violate their religious dietary rules. We are in a Dadaist world, are we not?
What is astonishing is that the government is even arguing that the prisoners bringing the lawsuit against force-feeding are not ‘persons’.
US government lawyers also argued that the detainees bringing the case, Shaker Aamer, Nabil Hadjarab, Ahmed Belbacha and Abu Wa’el Dhiab, are not “persons” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and are therefore not protected under it.
Jon Eisenberg, US counsel for the men, said: “The Obama administration argues here that ‘the public interest lies with maintaining the status quo’. The status quo is that these men are being held indefinitely without any sort of trial, even though they were cleared for release years ago.”
“Consider the irony of the Obama administration arguing here that the Guantánamo Bay detainees are not ‘persons’ within the scope of US law guaranteeing religious freedom, in a post-Citizens United world where even corporations are endowed with legal personhood.”
If the prisoners in Guantanamo are not ‘persons’, then what are they? Three-fifth of a person?