EL PASO, Texas — Nine men — up from six earlier this week — are being force-fed under court order in a detention center in El Paso, Texas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
One of the hunger strikers, a 22-year-old man from Indian who called The Associated Press on Friday, described how he is 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 family concerns for his safety, stopped eating more than a month ago. In mid-January, ICE obtained court orders to begin non-consensual hydration and feeding, and so for weeks they’ve had nasal tubes inserted in their noses and IVs in their arms.
The AP first reported on the force-feeding Wednesday.
“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.”
Speaking through an interpreter, 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.
In a statement, ICE said it fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference.
“ICE does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers. ICE explains the negative health effects of not eating to our detainees. For their health and safety, ICE closely monitors the food and water intake of those detainees identified as being on a hunger strike,” the agency said.
The AP’s reports on the force-feeding have garnered international headlines and angry responses from policymakers and human rights advocates.
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, an El Paso Democrat, visited some of the men after the initial reports, tweeting afterward that their situation is “unacceptable.”
“El Paso and our country are better than this,” she said.
Human Rights Watch published a dispatch Friday describing force-feeding as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.”
By Associated Press for KFOX14
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