Open Letter: to President Obama on hunger strikers in Guantanamo

Frank Arnold, Vincent Iacopino , Scott Allen , Hernán Reyes, Iain Chalmers, on behalf of 148 other signatories.[1]

We write to you as doctors and other health professionals to request that you attend to the open letter from 13 of the hunger strikers in Guantanamo to their military doctors.

It is clear that they do not trust their military doctors. They have very good reason for this, as you should know, from the current protocols of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo,[2] which those doctors are ordered to follow. The orders they receive are ultimately your orders as their Commander-in-Chief.

Without trust, safe and acceptable medical care of mentally competent patients is impossible. Since the detainees do not trust their military doctors, they are unlikely to comply with current medical advice.

That makes it imperative for them to have access to independent medical examination and advice, as they ask, and as required by the UN and World Medical Association.[3][4]

Many of the hunger strikers will be currently unfit for long-distance flights.

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.

If you keep your word (given over 4 years ago), and arrange release of detainees, they will need to become fit to fly before they can be returned to wherever you order your forces to send them.

We have the deepest sympathy for the hunger strikers, the military doctors, and your predicaments. We offer our services to visit, examine and advise them, and to assist in any way that is acceptable to all parties.

We declare that we have no conflicts of interest.


[gravityform id=”3″ name=”Obama Open Letter Add Your Name”]


[1]Lancet supplementary appendix of signatures. (accessed June 16, 2013)

[2]Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay. Medical management of detainees on hunger strike. (accessed June 16, 2013).

[3] UN Human Rights. Guantanamo/Human Rights: “Indefinite detention – will it ever end? (accessed June 16, 2013)

[4] World Medical Association. WMA Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers. (accessed June16, 2013)