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Posts Tagged ‘Karen McVeigh

US government to force-feed hunger strikers at  Guantánamo Bay during Ramadan

The US government has refused to stop force-feeding detainees on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay during the holy month of Ramadan.

There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo, 106 of them are on hunger strike.

Of those, 45 of them are being fed through tubes directly into the stomach, according to the court papers.

In its court filing, the US Department of Justice also denied claims that it was giving the drug Reglan to the detainees.

In court papers rejecting a petition by four of more than 100 detainees said to be refusing food, the US said the feedings provided “essential nutritional and medical care” and would not interfere with religious observance of Ramadan, which begins on Monday.

 published from New York in the guardian.co.uk this July 3, 2013

Observant Muslims fast daily from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan.

Lawyers for President Obama also said that the “public interest lies with maintaining the status quo“.

Last month, Obama gave a speech in which he promised to work towards closing the base, and to allow the release of many of the 86 prisoners held there who have been cleared for transfer.

Obama described the camp as a moral problem for the nation that had to be solved.

The feeding of detainees, via nasogastric 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. These policies have been in place for years, and are consistent with our mission to safely detain while supporting the religious practices of those in US custody. If told to do differently, we will do so.”

Government lawyers said that enteral or force feeding is authorized by federal regulations when a prisoner’s life or permanent health is in danger, and is related to “preserving order security and discipline within the detention facility“, according to court documents in the case.

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.

A group of detainees began a hunger strike in February this year, in protest at their detention. Some have been detained without trial for more than a decade.

It also highlights Obama’s failure to deliver a 2008 campaign pledge to close the camp.

Aamar, who has spent 11 years without trial at the camp, despite being twice cleared for release, recently spoke of increasingly brutal tactics being used in an attempt to break the strike.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the US, reiterated its call on Monday for the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to stop.

Lawyers for the detainees described the tube feeding as “barbaric” and hit out at the failure of the US government to provide a specific guarantee that no feeding would happen during the day.

Cori Crider, counsel for the men and strategy director at Reprieve, said: “These are more weasel words from the Obama administration – they say they have ‘no plans’ to force-feed during the day in Ramadan, but give no guarantees. Meanwhile, on the eve of Independence Day, they ride rough-shod over the fundamental right of people to choose what goes into their bodies. ”

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.”

Guantanamo

Government lawyers said that enteral or force feeding is authorised by federal regulations. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

“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.”

New comers on the block: Anti-drone protesters blocked with broad restraining order…?

US Predator is a drone that was put in service during the Iraqi preemptive war to guide and facilitate the missions of snipers. It is just 1.16 m long and about 3 m wide.

Iran boasted today that it forced one such drones to land in Iran.

The US has several drone versions capable of launching missiles. President Obama meet with a close-knit group every week to decide on which “Qaeda leader” to target, killing with utmost prejudice

The list was of 2,000 names to be  disposed of with utmost prejudice. I have no idea how this list shrank or increased.

Ever since the F16 fighters were replaced by Reaper drones at Hancock Air National Guard base in upstate New York three years ago, peace activists have engaged in regular anti-drone protests outside the facility.

The activists have learned what to expect:

1. holding banners at a site across the road is tolerated;

2. close proximity or blocking gates risks arrest for trespass or disorderly conduct, a fine, or at the most, a few uncomfortable nights in a cell.

Things are changing with  broad restraining order.

Demonstrators who have gathered at New York air base for years say their constitutional right to protest has been compromised after colonel granted strict order of protection

published in the guardian.co.uk, on Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012 under “Anti-drone protesters knocked off course by broad restraining order“:

A US Predator unmanned drone sits primed at  Bagram air base, Afghanistan

A US Predator unmanned drone sits primed at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. Photograph: Bonny Schoonakker/AFP/Getty Images

Now, in what appears to be a significant escalation by base authorities, the activists have been subjected to what they describe as an “absurd” restraining order which they say breaches their constitutional right to protest.

The order was issued by a judge [PDF] following the arrest of 17 protesters accused of blocking all three base entrances to traffic last month. It bans them specifically from approaching the home, school or workplace of Colonel Earl A Evans, a commander at the base. Failure to comply is a felony, punishable by up to seven years in jail.

Some of the activists are due to have the charges against them, including disorderly conduct and harassment, heard in Dewitt criminal court on Wednesday.

The arrested protesters, three of whom spoke to the Guardian, said they had never heard of Evans, had never met him and did not know what he looked like.

Colonel Earl A Evans is the mission support group commander of the 174th fighter wing group, according to court documents.

Neither his home or school address is known to the defendants or detailed in the order, which names his place of work as 6001 East Molloy Road in Dewitt, New York – the military base.

The protestors are also banned from all forms of communication with Evans, including by email.

In a deposition to the court dated 25 October, Evans called for an order of protection and prosecution of the arrested protesters to the “fullest extent”. He said the blocking of all three gates by the protesters was the “third time that protesters had done an unannounced protest” that resulted in a closure of the gate.

Written by hand, in block capitals, Evans wrote: “As an authorised representative of Hancock Field, I request that the court issue an order of protection on each and every defendant arrested such that they are to stay away from Hancock Field and I request prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

The order has created confusion among the activists involved, as they say they no longer know where they can legitimately protest against the unmanned drones, which are operated from the base.

One of the 17 arrested, Elliott Adams, said: “This is a new tactic to deny us our first amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and to petition our government.”

Adams, a Vietnam veteran, past president of Veterans for Peace and former mayor of Sharon Springs, accused the military and local law enforcement of increasingly heavy-handed tactics against peaceful protests.

In the last 18 months, more than 100 people have been arrested at the base, according to protesters, but in at least a third of the cases, the charges have been dropped.

Last year, Adams was among 33 protesters arrested after marching in single file on the side of the road, in what he described as “frivolous charges” which were later dropped. But the latest order is the worst so far, he said.

“We are committed to non-violence” said Adams. “It’s absurd that this order is all about Evans’ personal well-being. He’s the guy who has spent a lifetime training in delivering violence and killing people and I say that as a veteran myself.

Those inside Hancock are the ones with the M16 and assault rifles, the MQ9 drones. We as individuals are obligated to stop our government committing war crimes – that’s part of what came out of Nuremberg. This is a misuse of the law.”

Adams said that he has repeatedly been arrested as he attempted to deliver a letter to the base commander, Colonel Greg Semmel, and others accusing the government of war crimes.

The order of protection, issued by Donald Benack, a judge in the Dewitt town court, Onondaga, New York, on 25 October, forbids the 17 activists from contacting Evans, and, specifically, forbids them from the following:

…assault, stalking, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the victim or victims of, or designated witnesses to the alleged offense and such members of the family or household of such victim(s) or witness(es) as shall be specifically named Earl A Evans.

The activists, Adams said, had asked if the order meant they had to stay away from the weekly permitted protest across the road from the base. The response from law enforcement officers: if Evans found it “irritating” then it did.

Adams now plans to consult an attorney over the best strategy to take over the order. His case comes up in court later this month.

Mark Scibilia-Carver, 60, an arborist from Trumensberg who has already spent five days in jail after being arrested at Hancock in the past, said: “The order of protection threatens a felony and that’s seven years. It’s very heavy-handed. I’m surprised the judge signed it. I will resist as far as I’m able but I have to think about the possibility of a longer sentence. I didn’t do that well in jail the last time.”

Mark Scibilia-Carver has used court time in the past to argue the case against drones and has even offered, unsuccessfully in lieu of payment of a $250 fine, to submit a contribution to the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers charity.

Scibilia-Carver, who began protesting at the base on Good Friday last year, said: “The US is the biggest imperial force in the world and it seems that poor people are expendable. Civilians get caught up in drone strikes. Even those who are targeted as terrorists are not being afforded the rule of law.”

The letter of indictment, which protesters have attempted to deliver to Semmel and others, accuses the US government of war crimes, including the killing of innocent civilians, by remote means.

It cites the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, who, in 2010, called the use of drones in targeted killings “a highly problematic blurring and expansion of the boundaries of the applicable legal frameworks” which has resulted in “the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined licence to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum“.

The letter adds: “There is no legal basis for defining the scope of area where drones can or cannot be used, no legal criteria for deciding which people can be targeted for killing, no procedural safety to ensure the legality of the decision to kill and the accuracy of the assassination”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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