Rapper Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, agreed to be force fed on camera using the same standard operating procedure used on hunger striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Even during the holy month of Ramadan, which requires observant Muslims to fast during the day, prisoners are force fed this way twice daily.
The footage is raw and disturbing. The inhumanity of being strapped down, immobilized, and then having a tube shoved into your nose and then down your throat is impossible to miss. Bey begs for release and cries when it’s over.
During the holy month of Ramadan, which ends next month, observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. But of the more than 100 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay participating in hunger strikes, 44 have been denied that opportunity. Those wishing to protest more than 11 years of imprisonment without trial have instead had to endure forced feedings via neogastric tube every day, twice per day.
Candidate Obama promised to close the illegal prison where enemy combatants are held indefinitely, tortured, and denied a trial. But President Obama won’t even approve the transfer of the 86 detainees eligible to leave. The problem is bipartisan, as House Republicans voted last month to make such transfers more difficult. However, since 2012 the Obama administration has had the power to waive most of these transfer restrictions on a case-by-case basis and has declined to utilize it even one time.
Now the Obama administration refuses to stop the force feedings at least through the month of Ramadan. The President’s lawyers claim that the “public interest lies with maintaining the status quo” and that Shaker Aamer, Nabil Hadjarab, Ahmed Belbacha and Abu Wa’el Dhiab, the detainees who brought the case, are not “persons” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Guardian, which released the video, is a British paper. The video’s award-winning director is British. Reprieve, the organization responsible for the video, is British. For more than 11 years the United States government has tortured and indefinitely detained human beings, all or mostly Muslim, without trial at Guantanamo Bay.
Yasiin Bey has been a Muslim since he was 19 years old. He acquired his name on his first trip to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj in 1998. Yasiin is a name in one of the Qur’an’s most important verses, the “heart of the Qur’an,” the 36th surah. The Awl describes Yasiim as “arguably the most prominent pop-cultural Muslim figure since Muhammad Ali.” He regularly opens his songs with Islamic prayers.
As Steve Chapman recently pointed out for Reason, a 2006 U.N. Commission on Human Rights panel said force-feeding “must be assessed as amounting to torture.” I don’t know why it’s taken a Muslim American and several British organizations to bring this torture to light in this way.
It seems many Americans take President Obama at his word that the “public interest lies with maintaining the status quo.” But when the status quo is the indefinite, illegal detention and torture of people who have been cleared as posing no risk to anyone’s safety, it should be clear to everyone that this serves no one’s interest.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire