The right to receive opportune medical care is one of the basic things that the government has to guarantee to its people.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights assures us that: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
The scandal with the hunger strikes at Guantanamo that shocked the world last spring, demonstrated how few of these rights are accessible to the inmates of the infamous detention camp. The detainees at Gitmo have reached such a level of despair that almost all of them have decided to end their own lives by doing the only thing they can; stop eating. Instead of dealing with the reasons of the hunger strike the Obama administration has ordered to force-feed them. The tubes through the noses, the prisoners were put in special ‘dry-rooms’ so they can’t throw up. Being force-fed in such horrible conditions amounts to torture, says Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of human rights organization Code Pink.
“All over the country there are experts who say that this is a form of torture and it’s unethical and that it should be stopped. Of course, way to stop it is to meet the demands for justice for the prisoners, and that is something that so far the Administration has been opposed to doing. But they can’t continue, with the condemnation they are receiving around the world, to strap these prisoners in chairs, to stuff tubes down their nose and their throat into their stomach, to have them like that for two hours every day. I mean, it’s just untenable,” Medea Benjamin said.
The state authorities claim they are doing it for the sake of detainees’ health. But under medical ethics it’s illegal to force feed people, argues Michael Ratner, the President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and the Chair of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin.
“If someone is making a decision, and it’s a conscious decision, and they’re sane when they make it; they are allowed to not eat and force themselves to die if that’s where it goes. They don’t have a right medically, to force feed someone. It’s just like if you are in the hospital and you say-take me off the machines; you have that right to do it. The American Medical Association, came out with a statement saying force-feeding is not authorized, is not ethical, under medical ethics and rules,” Michael Ratner said.
According to Ratner, some detainees cleared for release continue the hunger strike even today but due to the lack of information and ways to communicate with the inmates, it is hard to find out what is going on at the Guantanamo. While the US politicians are ready to tear each other apart over the healthcare issues, innocent people might be struggling to survive behind the bars of the American security stronghold