Military says special chair stops Gitmo hunger strikes
The head of the United States Southern Command says the use of a restraint chair has helped cut the number of Guantánamo Bay detainees on a hunger strike from 130 down to five.
Gen. John Craddock told a meeting of defense writers today that currently only three of those five hunger strikers are being force-fed. The U.S. military has been force-feeding prisoners through nose tubes for months.
But Craddock said that soldiers discovered the detainees were purging themselves through the nose tubes after being fed. Strapping the detainees to a restraint chair for an hour, Craddock said, allowed their bodies to absorb the nutrients so purging was not effective.
"Its not like 'The Chair,' it's a chair," Craddock said. "It's pretty comfortable, it's not abusive."
Southern Command said the use of the restraint chair was recommended by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons as a safe way to counter hunger strikes. Craddock said in addition to using the chair, they have cut the number of strikers by separating the detainees who refuse food, to deter them from supporting each other in their strike efforts. Curiously, Craddock said that the soldiers give the detainees a choice of colors for feeding tubes: yellow, clear, and beige.
"They like the yellow," he said.
While some of the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay are being returned to their host countries, Craddock said that he believes some will remain long term, though he refused to say if the prison would operate indefinitely.
"There is need for detention because they are self-avowed terrorists," he said. "If they get out, they will kill people."