Hunger strike in Guantanamo: Doctors’ petition to President Obama

June 4, 2013


Medact, a British charity, drafted a petition addressed to President Obama urging the US Administration to allow hunger strikers in custody in Guantanamo Bay access to external independent medical advice. Medact is seeking as many doctors and nurses as possible to sign the letter.

Thirteen hunger strikers in Guantanamo have written an open letter to their military doctors  about their maltreatment in the form of forced feeding.”You claim to be acting according to your duties as a physician to save my life. This is against my expressed wish. As you should know, I am competent to make my own decisions about medical treatment. I refuse the treatments you offer; you force me to take them and by violent means…” The lawyers acting on behalf of the hunger strikers have asked that doctors and nurses around the world show solidarity with these men and act to “protect them from harm and injustice”.

In May 2013, IFHHRO sent a letter to the US Secretary of Defense about doctors’ complicity in forced feeding. Please find it below. 

In addition, Medact (, a British health and human rights organisation, has prepared the following petition, to be delivered publicly to President Obama. If you want, please sign and indicate if you have relevant experience and/or expertise and are willing to visit Guantanamo or give advice. All fields are mandatory.

Signatories are requested to contact Miri Weingarten via email once they’ve signed:


Dear Mr. President,

We write to you as doctors and other health professionals, to request that you attend to the open letter (1) to their military doctors from many of the hunger strikers in Guantanamo. It is clear that they do not trust their military doctors. They have very good reason for this, as you will know from the current protocols (2) of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) which those doctors are ordered to follow. Without trust, safe medical care of mentally competent patients is impossible. Since they do not trust their military doctors, they are unlikely to comply with current medical advice. That makes it imperative for them access to independent medical examination and advice, as they ask, and as required by the UN High Commission for Human Rights and World Medical Association (3,4).

Many of the hunger strikers will be currently unfit for long-distance flights. If you keep your word (given over four years ago) and arrange release of detainees who are hunger-striking, they will need to become fit to fly before they can be returned to wherever you send them. We endorse their request, and are prepared to visit them, under appropriate conditions, to assist in their recovery and release, and certify when we are confident it is medically safe for them to fly. We have the deepest sympathy for the hunger strikers’, the military doctors’, and your predicaments. We offer our services to assist in any way that is acceptable to all parties.




Relevant experience



More information

Medact letter

Guantanamo detainees’ letter to their military doctors

IFHHRO’s May 2013 letter to the US Secretary of Defense