- ICE has been accused of force-feeding detainees on hunger strike.
- The Intercept has released a video that appears to show a prisoner being force-fed.
- “I asked them to give me my freedom,” he said, but he spent almost a year in custody.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been accused of force-feeding detainees who refuse to eat multiple times, but a 2019 video obtained by The Intercept through a public records request appears to reveal the shocking practice occurring.
In June 2018, Ajay Kumar fled India, telling The Intercept that his life was in danger because of his political activism. While in ICE custody in July 2019, Kumar, who is Hindu, began refusing to eat when the agency denied his request to make sure his food was not cross-fertilized with beef, a meat forbidden in the religion .
In a recent interview, he told The Intercept that the reason he started the hunger strike was because he would die if he was sent back to India. But through a hunger strike, he said, “I will choose the manner of my death,” according to a translation of the report.
“I asked them to give me my freedom. If they had given it at that time, there wouldn’t have been a need for all of this,” Kumar told The Intercept about his treatment in ICE Custody. “This is not humanity. This is completely against humanity.”
He was released on Sept. 26, 2019, after 76 days on hunger strike and weighed just 107 pounds, Texas Monthly reported.
While in custody, Kumar went 37 days without eating before ICE officers dressed in riot gear intervened, according to The Intercept. He refused to drink a protein smoothie and demanded his freedom, according to the article. But a team of officers responded by pushing, removing and reinserting a 6mm tube through his nose and into his stomach, the article added. The video showed the process, which took place in front of other prisoners who chose to go on hunger strike.
He was later force-fed again on Sept. 12 through a thinner tube, according to The Intercept.
“I was just thinking that I would like that tube to turn around and go into my brain and the story ended there,” Kumar told the report.
Kumar claimed that he spent about three months in total in solitary confinement before his release.
“I got my freedom. Freedom is very good for everybody, and for me too,” Kumar said when he was released after nearly a year in custody, according to Texas Monthly.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. ICE declined Insider’s request for comment. Kumar could not immediately be reached for comment.