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 November 5, 2013

Dean Klag Signs Letter Urging End to Force Feeding of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp

Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is among 35 leading medical professionals, Nobel Prize winners and leaders of major U.S. health institutions who are calling on President Obama to end force feeding of detainees and restore medical ethics at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. Klag co-signed a letter to President Obama organized by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

According to PHR, hunger striking is undertaken as a nonviolent form of protest when other ways of expressing demands are unavailable. A significant portion of the detainees at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been engaged in on-and-off hunger strikes since 2002. PHR says that the U.S. military has responded to the detainees’ protests by subjecting them to force feeding, a procedure that authorizes the restraint of detainees so they can be forced to take in nutrients by having a tube inserted through their nose.
 

“Physicians have a core duty to care and advocate for their patients. Supporting force feeding runs counter to this essential responsibility,” said Klag. “At Guantanamo, physicians have instead become agents of coercion designed to break political protests. This should never happen.”

Additional Bloomberg School of Public Health signators include, Peter Agre, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

The full text of the letter to President Obama is available at https://s3.amazonaws.com/PHR_other/Letter-to-President-Obama-Guantanamo-November-2013.pdf.

Additional information about force-feeding of prisoners is available from PHR at https://s3.amazonaws.com/PHR_other/PHR_ForceFeeding_FactSheet.pdf.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health media contact: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or tmparson@jhsph.edu.