by Helen Schietinger and Jeremy Varon
Witness Against Torture
These are the words of a Navy nurse assigned to force-feed prisoners who are hunger striking at Guantánamo Bay prison:
I refuse to participate in this criminal act.
Abu Wael Dhiab, one of the hunger strikers, witnessed the nurse’s courageous stand and reported it to his lawyer. Dhiab, as quoted through his attorney, described the nurse as “very compassionate” in his treatment of detainees over the prior months. “Initially, he did carry out his orders,” says Dhiab. “He decided he could not do it anymore.”
The nurse’s refusal is an extraordinary act of conscience. It speaks to the brutality of forced-feeding, which the hunger strikers describe as torture and medical and human rights bodies have denounced. It affirms the ethical obligations of medical professionals, which prohibit forced-feeding. And it underscores the broader criminality of Guantánamo, where men are held indefinitely without charge or trial and further brutalized when they protest.
Witness Against Torture praises the heroic act of the Guantánamo nurse, who should not suffer disciplinary consequences for his principled stand. We hope his act inspires other staff at Guantánamo to refuse to execute camp orders. Most of all, we hope the nurse’s resistance further awakens the American people and President Obama to the barbarity of Guantánamo and hastens the closure of the prison…