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2 Guantanamo Prisoners Force Fed

April 01, 2002|From Reuters

MIAMI — Two prisoners who refused food for 30 days to protest their detention at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were force fed through stomach tubes Sunday, the military said.

The two are among 300 suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners captured in Afghanistan and held at the U.S. military base in eastern Cuba.

Military doctors inserted tubes through the men's noses and down into their stomachs, feeding them a "milkshake-like" nutritional substance used for comatose patients and other involuntary feeding, military spokesmen said.

"The detainees said they were refusing to eat because they wanted to go home, and not eating provided a means for them to protest their detention," the military said in a statement.

The two were moved last week from the prison to a mobile hospital, where they accepted intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration but still refused food.

Doctors and the camp's Muslim chaplain had tried unsuccessfully to persuade them to eat. After the two prisoners refused meals for 30 days, medical personnel resorted to force feeding because of concerns about weight loss and overall health.

"It went very smoothly and without incident," said Capt. Al Shimkus, the surgeon in charge of the mobile hospital.

He said the treatment was expected to continue for at least seven days, after which "natural hunger pangs usually return, which helps encourage an individual to eat on his own."

In February, nearly 200 of the Guantanamo prisoners refused at least some meals in a "rolling" hunger strike that began when a guard removed a turban from a praying prisoner.

Most of the other prisoners were eating well. Maj. James Bell, prison task force spokesman, said they had gained an average of 10 pounds each since arriving.

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