Mos Def, a.k.a. Yasiin Bey, Submits to Gitmo-Style Force-Feeding

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Yasiin Bey, better known by his previous stage name Mos Def, can’t handle a Gitmo force-feeding, but he’s willing to give it a try. The rapper and actor agreed to participate in a project to demonstrate what it’s like to be a Guantanamo Bay prisoner on a hunger strike.

UK-based human rights group Reprieve teamed up with Bafta award-winning director Asif Kapadia to produce the video and published it on the Guardian website today. More than 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo have undertaken a hunger strike since February, and the facility force-feeds about 45 of them on a regular basis.

With the approach of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month during which Muslims abstain from food and water during the day, Gitmo critics have renewed calls for the prison to end the force-feedings. Guantanamo authorities have defended the practice as “humane, high-quality medical care to preserve life and health,” and say they will engage in force-feeding at night during Ramadan to respect the daytime fast.

In the graphic video, volunteer doctors strap Bey, clad in what has now become an iconic orange jumpsuit, to a restraint chair and stick a tube up his nose and down toward his stomach. Bey gasps and moans as two additional men force him still.

When the doctors prepare to insert the tube a second time, Bey pleads in genuine anxiety.

“Stop it, please! Stop it!” he shouts, before an off camera voice calls for the doctors to end the simulation.

The procedure follows Guantanamo’s “Standard Operation Procedure” for force-feeding, a document that surfaced on Al Jazeera earlier this summer. The manual, which notes that some detainees have been on hunger strike since 2005, explains: “Just as battlefield tactics must change throughout the course of a conflict, the medical responses to GTMO detainees who hunger strike has evolved with time.”

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler rejected today a legal claim from a prisoner objecting to the force-feeding during the month of Ramadan, but she challenged President Barack Obama to take on the issue.

“Even though this Court is obligated to dismiss the Application for lack of jurisdiction, and therefore lacks any authority to rule on Petitioner’s request, there is an individual who does have the authority to address the issue,” Kessler wrote.

The Brooklyn-born musician emerged as a hip-hop star in the late 1990s alongside Talib Kweli in their duo Black Star. He has acted in a variety of television series and films, and also has a history of political activism. In 2008, he was arrested in front of the MTV VMAs ceremony in New York City for his unauthorized street performance of his song “Katrina Clap,” a critique of the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

55 comments
ChristianHata-ProofFelix
ChristianHata-ProofFelix

SMFH I REMEMBER HAVING A TUBE PUT IN TO HAVE MY STOMACH PUMPED WHEN I ALMOST DIED IN A CAR WRECK IN 98 BUT THIS IS JUST OMG!! O_o

kevinbac
kevinbac

Anyone who has had bowel surgery has had this done to them. It is a common medical procedure and little is thought about it in a hospital setting.

yu_kie
yu_kie

@plattyjo did you watch a whole thing? i could only watch a first bit... horrifying.

JaniAllan
JaniAllan

@TIME Wasn't Obama going to close Gitmo? Could I be wrong?

WilliamBanish
WilliamBanish

@TIME Of course to be fair he must also try a beheading such as what the Gitmo force-fed inmates practised before their capture.

browncoat
browncoat

I am concerned about gitmo for what it means for everyone. It is a whole lot easier and whole lot more legal to stash someone in an oubliette these days. There are courts convened by the NSA in secret every day. Even the Judges who preside over those courts cannot take media into or out of those chambers. Those judges cannot even document the cases they try. Mos Def is trying to start a bigger conversation. I support that. If what is going on is so vital and so good for the people, why is it not a matter of public record? Secrecy in all of its forms is vital in the protection from immediate threat. But when does that veil become a threat to our own liberty? How do we know that all of the agents of our government are using this veil in our nation's best interest? Ensuring due process is vital to all the detainees in gitmo. Not because of "them." Because of "US." Our freedoms are protected by that very due process. If we cheapen it for some we cheapen it for all.

jakeriley
jakeriley

I am ashamed of my government

JohnnyDangerously1
JohnnyDangerously1

If this were torture people wouldn't be volunteering to do it on film.  Let's see someone volunteer to be handled  the way our prisoners are treated in the middle east. 

Brian_442
Brian_442

I'm not sure what is the point of this video?  During the course of investigating some GI issues, I have had esophageal manometry done 3 times.  The procedure is the same as what is shown in this video.  Put some lubrication on a tube and then insert it into a nostril and down the throat.  While not necessarily pleasant, it isn't anywhere near as bad as this video portrays, although I'm sure people have different levels of tolerance of something going in their nose.  I have twice done PH studies where you have to wear said tube home with you (still in your nose and down your throat) for 24 hours and get it removed the next day.  I guess I don't see the point here.  Are they trying to say this is inhumane treatment?  I really don't think so.  Having a sore throat is far worse than this procedure.  

Mr.T-Bone
Mr.T-Bone

This so called "force feeding" is called a feeding tube.. many many many patients "endure" this "torture" daily.. in hospitals across the globe because they're aren't able to eat solid foods... or in this case they refuse to do so. Sure it's painful getting a tube shoved up your nose and back down your throat.. but it's momentary. My niece had one up her nose for over a month.. she was 7 at the time.. if she can tough it out, i would think a grown man could... but maybe Mos Def isn't a man or he's just being dramatic.. what a puss.

 Mos Def must be short for Most Definitely a Drama Queen.

DougHendrix
DougHendrix

I will feel sorry for those "individuals" at Gitmo when the persons killed or maimed as a result to their actions are brought back to life and reunited with their families.  Until that happens, I feel that they get what they deserve.

If they want to complain abut force feeding....don't feed them and let them die.

joeypants00
joeypants00

These prisoners aren't Gandhi protesting by going on a hungry strike they are terrorist trying to draw sympathy from anyone that will listen. This stunt is a shameless ploy by Mos Def to get media attention and I think Time shouldn't of obliged. 

LutherBrix
LutherBrix

@Uberman_ And your proof that the hostages held at Gitmo are terrorists (despite never being charged with being terrorists) is what exactly? The honesty of the US government?

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@roundergc 

i say let them. it's their choice. they're big boys, if they want to starve themselves to death that's their prerogative

Shanekfarrell
Shanekfarrell

@S_Dockery It's way worse in my opinion. He looks like he's in so much pain - hard to believe they endure that twice daily.

Kryptocake
Kryptocake

@JaniAllan @TIME Yep, add that to the list of campaign promises he never intended to fulfill. 

mcguinde
mcguinde

@JohnnyDangerously1 @JohnnyDangerously1 @ShibliZaman You've completely missed the point johnny. The World Medical Organisation, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the American Medical Association have all condemned this type of force feeding as painful humiliating and degrading. Here, the forcefeeding of Yasiin Bey was conducted in a controlled environment, and could be stoppped at his request. In the end, as the article states "an off camera voice calls for the doctors to end the simulation." In this case, its technically not torture, inhuman or degrading treatment for this reason. In Guantanamo however, you can't ask it stop, and no one will be 'off camera' looking out for your welfare. Check out the Christopeher Hitchens waterboarding experiment for a similar argument.

ShibliZaman
ShibliZaman

@JohnnyDangerously1 What does that have to do with ANYTHING? If someone robs your house should I say you are at least better off than a victim of a riot in Nigeria?!

ShibliZaman
ShibliZaman

@Brian_442 Did you have that tube removed, reinserted, and removed several times in a 2 hour time frame while being pinned down and subdued by guards? No. I didn't think so.

Zasman
Zasman

@Mr.T-Bone your not in that situation and if you were than you wouldn't even last a second

NicolasEdwards
NicolasEdwards

@Mr.T-Bone Actually most feeding tubes are inserted and left in place. They are not removed and reinserted repeatdly. There is great risk when inserting feeding tubes including puncturing the esophagus and putting the tube in the lungs causing infection and damage. It is torture to do this twice a day for an extended period of time. As you even stated in your post your 7 year old had one for over a month... left in place. Not removed and reinserted repeatedly. 

NicolasEdwards
NicolasEdwards

@DougHendrix How do they get what they deserve? The vast majority of Gitmo detainees have been cleared for release. They have no evidence that there was a crime committed by them and military reviews have shown them to be no threat to anyone. Please explain how they are getting what they deserve. How does detaining someone who has no relation to the killing of some other person seem like the right thing to do. 

NicolasEdwards
NicolasEdwards

@joeypants00 Same thing I have said to doug..... How do they get what they deserve? The vast majority of Gitmo detainees have been cleared for release. They have no evidence that there was a crime committed by them and military reviews have shown them to be no threat to anyone. Please explain how they are getting what they deserve. How does detaining someone who has no relation to the killing of some other person seem like the right thing to do. 



cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@Zasman

you don't know him, so how do you know what situation he is or isn't in? or what his tolerance to pain is? you know nothing other than you disagree with him

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@ShibliZaman

dude, we get it. you have an article that says most of them are innocent. you don't need to spam it on every third comment.