10 July 2013

Just how brutal is force-feeding for Gitmo prisoners?

To make the plight of the ‘detainees’ at Guantánamo Bay a bit more high-profile, it may help to stick a tube down the nose of a celebrity.

Actor and musician Yasiin Bey (you may know him better as Mos Def) demonstrates how prisoners on hunger strike are force-fed. Strapped into a chair and held down by multiple men, Bey has a tube inserted through is nose and down to his stomach so that food can be pumped into his body.

The video (see bottom) is a piece of activism from the British human rights group Reprieve. Human Rights groups argue that prisoners have the right to choose whether or not to eat. Their aim is to show the brutality of force-feeding.

Detainees in Guantánamo Bay prison continue to fight for their right to undertake a hunger strike – as a means to more broadly protest their detention (which some contend violates international law). Current rules at the prison do not allow for hunger strikes. The staff at the prison must force-feed the prisoners who are refusing to eat. Lawyers for four of the detainees filed legal proceedings to stop the practice last week. From the Guardian:
Lawyers acting for four detainees on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay have accused the US government of preparing to operate a “force-feeding factory” in the camp during the holy month of Ramadan. 
In a new legal filing lodged with a federal court in Washington, lawyers for the men argue that the feedings during Ramadan will lead to mass use of restraint chairs, require hundreds of staff to administer and could be dangerous for the health of detainees. “If this can even be achieved, Guantánamo Bay will become a veritable force-feeding factory,” the lawyers write.
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Warning: Some may find the video difficult to watch.