In order to draw attention to the brutal treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, Yasiin Bey—the rapper and actor formerly known as Mos Def—voluntarily underwent Gitmo's standard (and incredibly painful) procedure for force-feeding detainees on hunger strike via nasogastric tubes. Warning: The video above is graphic and disturbing.
In April, the U.S. military officials confirmed that nearly half the detainees at Guantanamo were on a hunger strike, which began in February, "as a protest against their indefinite confinement and conditions."
The video was created by Reprieve, an advocacy group that assists “prisoners facing the death penalty, and prisoners held beyond the rule of law in the ‘war on terror.’” The force-feeding was performed according to a document leaked to Al Jazeera that outlines standard operating procedure for detainees on a hunger strike.
Hunger striking Guantanamo prisoners who are force-fed a liquid nutritional supplement undergo a brutal and dehumanising 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, according to documentation obtained by Al Jazeera. 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.
In the segment, Bey is held down on a chair by leather straps placed around his wrists and forehead. “Please. Please please please please please, don’t don’t don’t,” he begs after the tube is inserted, dissolving into tortured groans. In the middle of the video, Bey breaks down, unable to continue. He sobs, hands covering his face.
“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.”
U.S. Muslim civil rights groups, like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have urged the Obama administration to rethink its force-feeding policy during Ramadan, the month-long fast that begins today. CAIR spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper told The Guardian:
"It's not just a religious issue, it's also a human rights issue in violation of international norms and medical ethics."
However, court papers rejected a petition by hunger strikers, arguing that the procedure provides essential medical care and would not interfere with the observance of Ramadan since the forced feedings would occur "before dusk and after sunset.”
US government lawyers also argued that the detainees bringing the case, Shaker Aamer, Nabil Hadjarab, Ahmed Belbacha and Abu Wa'el Dhiab, are not "persons" under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and are therefore not protected under it.
Is it any wonder that even Gitmo guards are breaking ranks?