About 30 people marched Sunday and shouted slogans against the Krome immigration detention center in solidarity with 10 men from Bangladesh who are detained there, after their nearly month-long hunger strike.
The protest was organized by groups supporting immigrants after a federal judge of the Southern District Court in Miami-Dade ordered on Monday that the 10 detainees be force-fed, following a request from ICE, the immigration police.
“It’s essentially torture. They are using intimidation to disrupt their right to protest what they consider inhumane treatment tactics,” said Muhammed Malik, one of the protest organizers. “They are the same practices used at Guantánamo, and they’re happening here in our county. It’s amazing that our political leaders are not publicly acknowledging about this. ”
Most of the 10 Bangladeshis, who are now called “The Krome 10,” entered the country across the border into Mexico and requested political asylum, activists said. Some have been held at Krome since 2014, while others were locked up just this year. All were arrested in Hidalgo, Texas.
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Judge Cecilia Altanoga said Monday that detainees may employ other tactics to protest their confinement. The judge said that without being fed, the detainees would not survive, said the judge.
The doctor of the detention center, Dalian Caraballo, testified in court that the men were not in immediate danger, but that if they continued with the hunger strike they risked suffering serious and permanent complications of health.
Abdul Awal, a prisoner for 21 years, told the judge he would rather die than return home, which he fled because of poor conditions.
The detainees are not being legally represented and are assisted by an interpreter.
According to the organizers of the protest on Sunday, the hunger strike is part of a national movement of undocumented immigrants who have been arrested. The nationally coordinated action is called #freedomgiving.
After Altanoga’s order, a group of leaders of faith-based organizations in South Florida published a letter condemning the decision of the judge.
“It’s hard to imagine the contrast between Christmas and torture, but that’s exactly what a federal judge in Miami did on Monday when he authorized the force-feeding of a group of Bangladeshis detained at Krome Detention Center,” says the letter, signed by several ministers, a rabbi and a priest.
The religious leaders said in their letter that the United Nations has defined force-feeding as a torture method.
“While it is difficult for many of us to identify with the actions taken by these desperate men, we must respect their decision and not subject them to more violence and humiliation. On Wednesday afternoon, men, frightened, ended his fast because of the threat of force-feeding,” the letter says. “In other words, people who are seeking political asylum and fleeing violence were threatened with violence to force them to eat.”
This information was supplemented with information from The Associated Press.