On Sunday, three Indians seeking asylum in the United States have been “forced to hydrate” at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Texas’ El Paso, as their hunger strike entered 20th day, said the attorney.

On July 9, the three men went on hunger strike at the ICE detention centre, demand for release as they appeal for deportation orders.

The asylum seekers’ claims have been rejected, therefore, seeking to appeal or reopen their cases, informs their advocate Linda Corchado. All three men have been detained for months, and one has been arrested for around a year. Last week, the Justice Department has filed orders with federal judges to hydrate or feed them non-consensually, said the Associated Press.

Activists and Lawyers told the Associated Press that they were worried the following steps will be force-feeding. Advocate Corchado continued, “My clients made the decision to begin a hunger strike to protest prolonged detention and what they believe were biased and discriminatory practices by the immigration court toward their cases.”

After suffered a year or more in detention with no end in sight, these Indians were left with no other options to seek attention to their prolonged detention, unfair immigration processes and to obtain freedom, she added. 

It is the recorded second time this year that Indian men have led the hunger strikes at the ICE detention centre in El Paso.

The ICE has clarified that there were detainee hunger strikes at its facilities in Otero, El Paso, New Mexico, but did not comment on the claims of “forced hydration” or “force-feeding”. One such hunger strikers in Otero was expelled to India within 8-days of his hunger strike, informs the advocate. However, ICE has never confirmed the deportation.

The World Medical Association has criticised all forces feeding and in Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikes claims that “forced feeding is never ethically acceptable.” The American Medical Association accepts the WMA’s position and condemns force-feeding of hunger strikers as a breach of core ethical values. The United Nations has indicated that the force-feeding of individuals held in the ICE detention centre may breach the Convention Against Torture.

Scholars of medical ethics have observed that “hunger strikers are not suicidal-as a matter of fact” as they are seeking “to obtain recognition for and solutions to their demands, and they were willing to sacrifice their lives to that purpose if need be.”

The ICE may avoid redoing the national embarrassment of force-feeding asylum seekers by releasing these Indian men at the earliest. 

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