Although President Obama has called the Guantánamo Bay detention facility a stain on America’s reputation and ordered its closure shortly after he took office in 2009, the facility continues to house 166 men, nearly half of whom have been cleared for release.
Many of the men have languished in Guantánamo Bay for years (some even a decade), and approximately 100 of them have reportedly gone on a hunger strike to protest their indefinite imprisonment.
Officials at the facility currently force-feed 44 detainees, a move many have called inhumane. As Ramadan—Islam’s holy month, in which participants fast from sunrise to sunset—approaches, many are calling on the Obama Administration to cease force-feeding Muslim detainees.
Though officials have said they will try to observe only nightly feeding hours, lawyers for the men argue that the process is “painful” and “degrading.” In a July 4 petition, attorneys argued:
“Force-feeding all 45 detainees during the night would leave just ten hours and 44 minutes for respondents to implement two force-feedings for up to an hour of feeding time and four hours of total observation time, which could require dozens of restraint chairs and hundreds of staff.”
Rapper and actor Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), aimed to increase awareness of force-feedings at Guantánamo Bay by agreeing to undergo the procedure on camera. During the heartbreaking video, Bey is strapped to a chair, held down, and struggles to prevent a tube from being inserted into his nose.
Unlike the detainees, Bey is able to stop the procedure once it gets too painful, and tearfully explains his experience. The video was produced by Reprieve, a human rights organization, and released to the press. A spokesperson for the group chided the Obama Administration for continuing the force-feedings, arguing the President could act, but lacks “the political courage to do so.”