New Gitmo Outrage: Obama Adds Religious Persecution to Crimes of Torture and Illegal Detention
July 9, 2013
PeaceLove News & Mos Def / Reprieve & The Huffington Post & The Guardian
In a recent video, Grammy-nominated rapper and actor Yaslin Bey (aka Mos Def) volunteered to undergo the same force-feeding procedure being used on hunger-striking detainees at the US military's Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The act was in protest of the Obama administration's decision to proceed with force-feeding during the month-long religious fast of Ramadan, which begins at today's sunset. Caution: The video is graphic and disturbing.
Rapper Mos Def Subjects Himself To Gitmo-Style Force-Feeding
Peace Love News
(July 8, 2013) -- In a recent video, a Grammy-nominated rapper and actor volunteered to subject himself to the same force-feeding procedure currently being used on hunger-striking detainees at the US military's Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The act was in protest of the Obama administration's decision to proceed with force-feeding during the month-long fast of Ramadan, which begins at today's sunset.
According to The Guardian, the US government has decided to proceed with the force-feeding by doing it only at nighttime, respecting the daytime fast undertaken by Muslims during Ramadan. However, Muslim rights groups argue that the continuation of force-feeding during a high holiday is particularly insulting.
"We believe it's wrong to force feed at any time but it is particularly upsetting to do it through Ramadan," said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
In protest of current policy, another group named Reprieve released a video showing rapper Yasiin Bey (best known as Mos Def) undergoing the force-feeding methods currently being used on detainees at Gitmo, as a demonstration of just how gruesome they believe the procedure to be.
Following the guidelines set forth in a Gitmo manual leaked to the press, volunteer doctors inserted a plastic tube through Bey's nostril, running it down to his stomach. Shackles or a mask are placed over detainees' faces in order to prevent spitting or biting of the tube. An x-ray is used to determine whether the food's nutrients reached the detainee's stomach.
After the first tube was removed from his nostril, Bey indicated he was in so much distress that he was unable to continue with the second insertion.
Yasiin Bey, AKA Mos Def, Force-Fed To Protest Guantanamo Procedure During Ramadan
Meredith Bennett-Smith / The Huffington Post
(July 8, 2013) -- In a video that many may find difficult to watch, actor and rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) attempts to undergo a force-feeding procedure that has been used on hunger strike participants at the Guantanamo Bay prison. The demonstration, which Bey abruptly stops due to apparent discomfort, is part of a campaign protesting the force-feedings.
Bey, 39, agreed to the procedure as part of the Stand for Justice campaign, timed to coincide with the beginning of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which begins Monday. The footage was released to The Guardian by British human rights group Reprieve. WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO BELOW
At more than 4 minutes long, the clip shows the "Italian Job" star -- dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit -- being restrained in a chair as anonymous medical personnel in scrubs attempt to force a plastic tube into his nostril. Bey is brought to tears during the procedure, eventually crying out for them to stop. Afterward, he tells the camera the ordeal was unbearably painful and made him feel like parts of his nose and throat were burning.
"I really didn't know what to expect," Bey says. "I really couldn't take it."
The demonstration is reminiscent of similarly hard-to-watch footage of journalist Christopher Hitchens submitting to waterboarding for a 2008 Vanity Fair feature.
While Bey was able to stand only a few minutes of the force-feeding procedure, Guantanamo prisoners go through the experience twice a day, sometimes for as long as two hours per feeding.
According to United States Southern Command documents published online by Al Jazeera, "Standard Operating Procedure" for these feedings includes shackling prisoners into a restraint chair while lubricated tubes convey a liquid nutritional supplement into their stomachs. After the feeding, prisoners are kept in a "dry cell" for 45 minutes to an hour in order to make sure they don't try to vomit the formula.
Currently, 106 of Guantanamo's 166 prisoners are on hunger strike. Around 45 of the strikers are subjected to force-feeding in a similar fashion to Bey, according to The Guardian.
While lawyers for four of the detainees on hunger strike had sought to halt the feedings during Ramadan, their petition was denied by US Justice Department officials last week, according to CNN.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col Todd Breasseale told CNN that military officials will force-feed prisoners at night in an attempt to accommodate Ramadan's daylight-hours fasting requirements, but added that the change "is an accommodation, not a right."
Reporting on Bey's previous political activism, The Washington Post notes that the artist has been a fierce critic of the US government for its response to Hurricane Katrina.
The graphic nature of the following video may be disturbing for some
Source: Reprieve: Director Asif Kapadia; Yasiin Bey / Mos Def
Length: 4min 38sec
Obama Urged to Halt Ramadan Force-feeding at Guantanamo
Ben Ferguson , Maggie O'Kane, and Ed Pilkington / The Guardian
NEW YORK (July 7, 2013) -- Islamic community leaders are calling on the Obama administration to rethink its policy of force-feeding hunger-striking detainees in Guantanamo during the month-long fast of Ramadan that begins on Monday.
The US government has said that barring "unforeseen emergency or operational issues" it will respect the daylight fast by trying only to force feed 45 detainees at night. Muslim groups say that by refusing to suspend the practice during Ramadan the US is adding insult to injury.
"We believe it's wrong to force feed at any time but it is particularly upsetting to do it through Ramadan," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman of the largest US Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, the Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). He said the situation was Kafkaesque: "It's not just a religious issue, it's also a human rights issue in violation of international norms and medical ethics."
Dr Azzam Tamimi, an Islamic community leader in Britain, said he hoped the Obama administration would reconsider. "As Ramadan starts, this issue is becoming increasingly embarrassing for the US government; it's about time President Obama took a brave decision to end this in a way that would be appreciated around the Islamic world."
The continuation of force-feeding through Ramadan is being legally challenged by four of the 106 detainees who are on hunger strike in protest at their prolonged detention without trial. A lawsuit filed with a federal court in Washington last week argues that night-time feeding could lead to long periods without water, endangering the hunger strikers.
To mark the beginning of Ramadan, the human rights group Reprieve has released to the Guardian a video in which the actor and rapper Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) submits himself to the enteral feeding imposed in Guantanamo. When the first tube was dislodged, he was unable to go ahead with a second attempt by the medical team to insert it.
The star said that he volunteered to be force-fed by two volunteer doctors to highlight what was happening to the hunger strikers in Guantanamo.
The four-minute video, directed by Bafta award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, seeks to reconstruct the specific force-feeding instructions set out in standard operating guidelines from Guantanamo leaked to al-Jazeera. It shows a plastic tube being inserted through Bey's nostril into his stomach.
The "Medical Management Standard Operating Procedure" document leaked from the detention camp defines a hunger striker as a detainee who has missed at least nine consecutive meals or whose weight has fallen to less than 85% of his ideal body weight.
If force feeding is deemed medically necessary, medical personnel shackle the detainee "and a mask is placed over the detainee's mouth to prevent spitting and biting". A feeding tube is then passed through the detainee's nostril into the stomach.
The process takes about 20 to 30 minutes but they can be required to stay in the restraint chair for up to two hours until a chest x-ray confirms the nutrient has reached their stomach.
The prisoner is then removed from restraint chair to "dry cell" where they are observed by a guard for up to an hour "for any indication of vomiting or attempts to induce vomiting". If they do vomit, they are returned to the restraint chair for the entire duration of the observation period in subsequent feeds.
If they bite the tube, the guards hold their head still for "as long as necessary for the detainee to relax his jaw".
Other religious groups have also spoken out against the practice. Last month Bishop Richard Pates, chair of the committee on international justice and peace for the US conference of Catholic bishops, wrote to the Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel noting the opposition of the International Committee of the Red Cross to force-feeding. "Rather than resorting to such measures, our nation should first do everything it can to address the conditions of despair that have led to this protest."
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