Rapper and actor Yasin Bey, or as you might have grown up calling him, Mos Def, volunteered to undergo Guantanamo Bay’s brutal force-feeding procedure that is conducted upon detainees who are on a hunger strike. The U.S. military reports half of Gitmo’s detainees are striking from food as a protest against their “indefinite confinement and conditions” and to shed light on the horrific way in which these individuals are being treated, Yasin Bey chose to become one of them by choice.
According to Gawker, the main purpose of Reprieve, the advocacy group who filmed Mos Def’s procedure, is to assist:
“prisoners facing the death penalty, and prisoners held beyond the rule of law in the ‘war on terror.’”
A document from Al-Jazeera exposes the inhumaneness of the force-feeding procedure that takes place at the military prison, stating:
Hunger striking Guantanamo prisoners who are force-fed a liquid nutritional supplement undergo a brutal and dehumanizing medical procedure that requires them to wear masks over their mouths while they sit shackled in a restraint chair for as long as two hours. The prisoners remain this way, with a 61cm – or longer – tube snaked through their nostril until a chest X-ray, or a test dose of water, confirms it has reached their stomach. At the end of the feeding, the prisoner is removed from the restraint chair and placed into a “dry cell” with no running water. A guard then observes the detainee for 45-60 minutes “for any indications of vomiting or attempts to induce vomiting”. If the prisoner vomits he is returned to the restraint chair.
In the video, Mos Def is strapped in a chair and a tube is then inserted into his nostrils. The excruciating pain is visible on his face and in the middle of the procedure Mos Def is seen breaking down. After the procedure, he stated:
“The first part of it is not that bad, but then you get this burning” he explains, still visibly shaken up. “Then it just starts to be really unbearable. It feels like something is going in—like something is going into my brain.”
Muslim groups such as Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have petitioned to the Obama administration to refute the force-feeding policy especially during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan. The CAIR spokesperson, Ibrahim Hooper stated:
“It’s not just a religious issue, it’s also a human rights issue in violation of international norms and medical ethics.”
U.S. Court papers rejected CAIR’s request thoroughly outlining that force-feeding procedures will not interfere with Ramadan because the act will happen “before dusk and after sunset”.
The video below of Mos Def is disturbing. Insight can be gained on the political issues that need to be addressed regarding the health, safety, and treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Although the prisoners who inhabit Gitmo have committed (or were accused) of political crimes, the inhumane treatment against them makes one question, is brutality necessary when a prisoner is already doing the time?