Watch Mos Def Try, Fail to Undergo Gitmo-Style Force-Feeding

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 8 2013 2:11 PM

Watch Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) Try, Fail to Undergo Gitmo-Style Force-Feeding

More than 100 of the 166 detainees being held at Guantánamo are currently participating in a hunger strike that began back in February. More than 40 of those prisoners are being force-fed, according to the latest word from the U.S. Navy. What does that force-feeding look like? Yasiin Bey—the actor, activist, and rapper better known as Mos Def—teamed up with human rights group Reprieve to show us. What followed is difficult to watch, but then again it's supposed to be.

It's worth pointing out the obvious here: The video is a transparent work of advocacy. So when Bey begs for the exercise to be called off before it's finished, there is little doubt that at least some degree of acting is going on. Then again, Bey's cries are quickly answered, a luxury not afforded to those Gitmo detainees who refuse to give up their peaceful protest.

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According to Reprieve, the feeding measures used on Bey followed the standard operating procedure used by the government, a process that was detailed in official documents leaked earlier this year. The government contends that process is a humane way to keep the detainees from starving to death. Attorneys for those being force fed, however, see things otherwise. In a legal filing last week in advance of today's start of Ramadan, the lawyers claimed that the government was prepping to turn the camp into a "force-feeding factory" during the holy month. 

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.