Allow Guantanamo strikers to starve

May 07, 2013, 3:03 PM GMT+0

The majority of Americans say that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay on hunger strike should not be force-fed, even if it means the hunger strikers may die

Last week, US President Barack Obama renewed calls to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, calling the prison "contrary to who we are". The detention centre was established at a US Navy Base in Cuba in January 2002 to hold terror suspects, and this February detainees there - some of whom have been at the prison for more than a decade - began a hunger strike to protest their continued detention.

Currently around 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay have joined the strike. In order to prevent the deaths of detainees, the US military has been force-feeding some of the hunger strikers through nasal tubes.

New research from YouGov US shows that majority of Americans disagree with this policy. 56% say the hunger strikers should be allowed to remain on their hunger strike without force-feeding even if it means that they die. 20%, on the other hand, said the detainees should be continued to force-fed to prevent their deaths.

Those who thought the detainees should be allowed to continue their hunger strike formed majorities or near majorities across nearly every demographic group.

Republicans were the most firm in their belief, with 67% saying the hunger strikes should be unimpeded and 18% supporting force-feeding. 48% of Democrats thought the detainees should be allowed to stay on hunger strike, versus 24% who did not.

While the majority of Americans may disagree with the force-feeding, Ronald Flanders, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command has said that it is a "legally approved procedure", also used in civilian prisons across the US. The American Medical Association, however, in a recent letter said that the continued force-feeding of hunger strikers “violates core ethical values of the medical profession”.

The International Red Cross has also called for an end to use of the procedure at Guantanamo Bay.