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AMA president opposes Guantanamo forced feedings

April 30, 2013 at 5:14 PM

WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- The president of the American Medical Association, in a letter to the Pentagon, said he opposes the forced feeding of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel from Dr. Jeremy Lazarus was prompted by reports of hunger strikes at the detention facility where the Pentagon has 166 prisoners, 100 of whom have been on hunger strikes, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Lazarus' letter advised Hagel the AMA took the same position on force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners in 2009 and 2005.

"The AMA has long endorsed the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo, which is unequivocal on the point: Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by a physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such as voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially," the letter reads in part.

At Guantanamo U.S. Army Lt. Col. Samuel House said no changes in procedure have been made.

"We will not allow a detainee to starve themselves to death ... detainees are given a choice: eat a hot meal, drink the supplement [Ensure or similar product] or be enteral fed," he said, a reference to nasogastric tube feedings.

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