Yasiin Bey, better known as US actor and hip hop artist MOS DEF, has been filmed being force-fed with the same method enacted by the US military on hunger striking detainees at the controversial detention camp on the Guantanamo Bay. Directed by award-winning film-maker Asif Kapadia, the video was made in collaboration with human rights organization Reprieve. During the film Yasiin Bey is seen convulsing in pain and pleading for the doctors to stop as he becomes increasingly dismayed and agitated by fear.
According to official documents, there are currently 166 Guantanamo detainees. 120 are on hunger strike to protest against their prison conditions and, of those, 44 are being force-fed against their will with liquid diet as shown in the film – employing tubes through the skull directly into the stomach. In distinction from the four minute video every such procedure in Guantanamo – usually executed twice a day – typically takes two hours! And the hunger strike reaches 156 continuous days today.
In the past MOS DEF frequently catched attention with critical lyrics and political engagement for instance with his criticism directed at the former Bush administration. At the age of 19 he converted to Islam. Now he declares his solidarity with the detainees and tries to raise awareness of their dreadful situation by undergoing the painful procedure used on them daily. “I didn’t really know what to expect” MOS DEF said after the experience. “The first part of it is not that bad, but then you get this burning and it starts to be really unbearable, like something is going into my brain and it reaches the back of my throat” he said, adding that he “really couldn’t take it.”
Since being posted to YouTube by Reprieve, the video has begun to go viral. More than four million viewers have seen the footage so far, and a great deal of conversation is taking place online regarding the video and the broader “#Standfast” campaign. US President Obama has repeatedly pledged to close down the camp but measures to do so have become stuck in the US congress mainly because of the attitude of the oppositional Republicans. Further information about human rights organization Reprieve’s project is available over at Reprieve’s website. Watch the video here. [Warning: Viewers may find the following video disturbing]