As I write this, five men from India are on hunger strike in a detention facility in Jena, Louisiana and are being subject to forced-hydration by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). And in a detention facility in El Paso, Texas, three South Asian men on hunger strike are being force-fed by ICE.
Here’s what that looks like: In El Paso, the men are undergoing naso-gastric force-feeding, which means a tube, nearly twice the size of the tubes that were used in Guantanamo, is being inserted through their noses, past their throat, and down into their stomach. In Jena, where the forced-hydration is occurring, a team of five to six people hold down the person while the IV is administered.
Force-feeding is a practice that has been denounced as torture by the United Nations, Physicians for Human Rights, the American Medical Association, and the World Medical Association. And yet, it’s been been occurring in the El Paso facility throughout the year. Since January, at least 16 people have been or are currently being subjected to force-feeding practices at that detention facility alone.
This keeps happening and will continue to happen unless we raise our voices.
The number of South Asian migrants apprehended at the border tripled from over 3,000 in 2017 to over 11,000 in 2018. SAALT and our partners have tracked patterns of abuse towards South Asian migrants in detention since 2014 that drove many to hunger strike including: inadequate or non-existent language access, denial of religious accommodations, use of solitary confinement as a form of retaliation, gross medical neglect, and high bond amounts resulting in prolonged detention.
We have to work together to ensure these men aren’t suffering in detention cells alone, with no one caring about what happens to them. Will you join us?
Here are three things you can do immediately:
- Support SAALT’s advocacy efforts in 2020 on behalf of South Asians in detention.
- Join the South Asian Rapid Response Network to offer legal and translation help to the growing number of South Asian asylum seekers.
- Share these stories on social media.