Is force-feeding an international human rights violation?

Or would it instead be a human rights violation to let hunger-striking inmates starve? Or maybe both? Debra Saunders quotes my puzzlement at “the emotional atmospherics of hunger strikes, in which people are using other people’s morality as a weapon against them.” [San Francisco Chronicle/ syndicated]


  • On 2013. June 1, I addressed the same question to NYT columnist Joe Nocera (whom I often agree with, but not this time):

    Subj: Is starvation acceptable alternative to force-feeding?
    To the Editor of the “New York Times”:

    Those who wish to outlaw force-feeding of dangerous captive hunger-strikers (Joe Nocera’s column, 2013/0601 Saturday)
    need to make clear that allowing suicide by starvation is morally acceptable, an autonomous decision for which the striker is solely responsible.

    Is Mr. Nocera ready to push international human-rights opinion in that direction?

  • Hugo, not just Nocera, but the authorities he cites also simply ignore the problem of starvation. The WMA says, flatly, “forced feeding of hunger strikers is unethical, and is never justified.”

    I don’t think I’m reading too deeply to assume that means that hunger strikers should be allowed to die.

    Frankly, I can see where radical leftists and Islamists have common ground, especially in their blithe disregard for human life.