Force-feeding caused Guantanamo prisoner to vomit blood, new court documents reveal
May 22, 2014
New documents filed with the federal courts in Washington DC as part of an ongoing case concerning the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo have revealed that one detainee contracted a chest infection as a result of botched force-feeding procedures, leading him to “vomit blood” a number of times.
The filing comes a day after, in a related case, federal judge Gladys Kessler ordered the Obama administration to disclose video tapes showing force-feedings at the prison, as well as the “Forcible Cell Extraction” (FCE) procedures which are used against prisoners who refuse to comply.
The documents set out the account of detainee Ahmed Rabbani, who is represented in the US District Court for the District of Columbia by lawyers from human rights charity Reprieve.
Mr Rabbani described how an improperly-inserted feeding tube caused him to develop a pain in his chest, as a result of which he asked for a day’s rest from force-feeding – a request which was ignored. The following day, he “vomited blood on himself three or four times” before losing consciousness, but was still taken to the feeding chair by the FCE team. After vomiting several more times, he was finally checked by a nurse and told that he would not be fed that day “because you have an infection.”
On another occasion, the feeding tube turned so that it was facing up, rather than down his throat, leading him to feel like it was “pushed up into [his] brain.”
Mr Rabbani has also described how an improperly-inserted feeding tube led to his airways being blocked with liquid, and has experienced considerable pain from the repeated insertion and withdrawal of the tube, often multiple times in each feeding session.
Earlier this week, lawyers for Mr Rabbani – a Pakistani father of three who has been held without charge or trial at Guantanamo for nearly a decade – asked the District Court to ensure video tapes of his force-feeding and Forcible Cell Extractions were preserved. The case mirrors that of detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab, also represented by Reprieve, who yesterday secured a ruling by Judge Kessler requiring the Obama administration to provide tapes showing his force-feeding to the court and his lawyers.
Cori Crider, Reprieve strategic director and counsel for Mr Rabbani said: “The Obama administration tries to present force-feeding as a humane process, but Mr. Rabbani’s grim experience shows the reality. Because of a peaceful protest aimed at securing basic legal rights, my client has been put through a painful, near-daily ordeal. All this would be unnecessary if the Administration would just follow through on its promise to close the prison. Meanwhile, it’s past time to clean up the mess that is force-feeding at Gitmo.”
Notes to editors
1. The documents filed to court are accessible here: