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Indian detainees being force fed in Texas

February 01, 2019 08:20 IST

The detainees include Sikhs, Gujaratis and Bengalis, and from Punjab in Pakistan.
Rediff.com Senior Contributor P Rajendran reports from New York.

A protest against Donald John Trump in Los Angeles, November 12, 2016. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

IMAGE: A protest against Donald John Trump in Los Angeles, November 12, 2016. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

Eleven detainees at the El Paso processing centre in Texas, USA, including those from South Asia, are being nasally force fed after they went on hunger strike to protest against the lack of due process.

Many are reportedly too weak to stand or talk. The detainees include Sikhs, Gujaratis and Bengalis, and from Punjab in Pakistan.

According to Amrit Kaur, the attorney for one of the detainees, "The strike began because of a discrimination between races."

The point of contention was over immigration bonds, the surety used to ensure that the detained alien be let out until the matter is decided by an immigration judge.

According to Kaur, "There are Indians and people from other countries there. Bonds are being granted to people from other countries, but not people from India."

Finally, she said, her client and others went on hunger strike early in January, which in legal terms involves reusing nine consecutive meals.

The Associated Press news agency, which first reported the story, got confirmation from spokesperson Leticia Zamarripa that the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- ICE -- that 11 detainees in El Paso are on hunger strikes, as were an additional four in the agency's Miami, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco locations.

 

Amrit Singh of California said his two nephews, who illegally crossed the border near El Paso and sought asylum, are in bad shape now.

According to him, after a federal judge ordered the force-feeding of the protesters, the authorities dispensed with the soft, slim lubricated tube used in such cases, opting for harder, larger ones, and leaving them on permanently in some cases.

"Four are bleeding from their noses," Singh said, adding that the detainees vomited repeatedly after the experience.

The AP report also described the claim of Eiorjys Rodriguez Calderin, who described himself as a Cuban dissident and said that people were restrained before the tubes were put in their noses and that people were being put into solitary confinement as punishment.

Despite ICE directives (external link) to avoid solitary confinement for non-violent detainees, the practice has been reported as being widespread (external link).

Force-feeding, often condemned as a form of torture, has been rejected by the American Medical Association (external link) and the World Medical Association (external link).

Amrit Singh also addressed the root cause for the protest.

"The people with last names Singh and Kumar, the judges first deny their bond, say they are lying," he said, adding that without checking for any more details, the judges deny them asylum.

According to him, nearly 100 people are trapped in two detention centres in the area -- the one at El Paso and at the nearby Otero county processing centre.

Kaur said given the lack of a suitable response, she and the groups she is working with -- Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention and the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee -- are trying to get the word about the situation at this location.

El Paso was where just before Christmas last year ICE officials dropped off hundreds of immigrants at the bus station without any warning to non-profits that might help.

P Rajendran / Rediff.com New York
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