The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says it is force-feeding nine hunger strikers in a detention center in El Paso. Human Rights Watch calls the process “cruel, inhuman and degrading.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed there are nine men being force-fed under court order in a detention center in El Paso, the Associated Press reports. One hunger striker, a 22-year-old man from India, described being dragged from his cell three times a day and strapped down on a bed. He said a group of people force-feed him by pouring liquid into tubes pushed through his nose. The man, who AP is identifying only by his last name Singh out of concerns for his safety, stopped eating more than a month ago. ICE obtained court orders to begin non-consensual hydration and feeding through tubes in their noses and IVs in their arms. “They tie us on the force-feeding bed, and then they put a lot of liquid into the tubes, and the pressure is immense so we end up vomiting it out,” said Singh. “We can’t talk properly, and we can’t breathe properly. The pipe is not an easy process, but they try to push it down our noses and throats.”
Singh said he has lost 50 pounds since he began his hunger strike. He said he is refusing food to protest guards’ unfair treatment of him and other detainees from Punjab. He said they are being denied bond while detainees from other countries were allowed out. ICE said it “does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers. ICE explains the negative health effects of not eating to our detainees.” Human Rights Watch describing force-feeding as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Hunger strikes among immigrant detainees are uncommon, and court orders authorizing force-feeding are rare, said an ICE official, noting that once force-feeding is approved, detainees have in the past given up their hunger strikes.