Hunger strikes: From Bahrain to Guantanamo

May 1, 2012

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(AP/Hasan Jamali)
Bahraini anti-government protesters gathered in front of pictures of jailed Bahraini opposition human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja on the 27th day of his prison hunger strike in Muqsha, Bahrain.

Hunger strikes are one of the few tools the incarcerated have to resist. Worldview takes an in-depth look into several prominent cases.

Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan is being held in Israel for "activities that threaten regional security." There are no formal charge against him. He started a trend when he protested his indefinite detention with a hunger strike. Now around 1400 Palestinians are now on a mass hunger strike, with several in serious medical condition. He ended the longest hunger strike in Palestinian history when he was released.  Ali Abunumah from the Electronic Intifada joins Worldview to share his insights on the situation.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a Bahraini human rights and political activist was sentenced by a military court for allegedly plotting against the state. He has been on a hunger strike protesting his life sentence for 84 days. Al-Khawaja has vowed not to end his hunger strike despite Bahrain's highest court ordering a re-trial for him. His daughter, Maryam Al-Khawaja joins Worldview from Beirut. She is the head of the international office for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

And, prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay have repeatedly turned to hunger strikers as a means of protesting their detention. The U.S. military ended those strikes by strapping those inmates into restraint chairs and force feeding them through their nostrils. Dr. Sondra Crosby was one of the first doctors allowed in to examine the prisoners at Guantanamo. She is a doctor of internal medicine and refugee health medicine at Boston University Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at Boston University. She tells Worldview about the role doctors should play when prisoners decide to engage in a hunger strike.