Mos Def, aka Yasiin Bey, undergoes force-feeding to protest Guantanamo measures

July 8, 2013

Well, this is more startling than the usual acts of celebvocacy we see. Rapper/actor Yasiin Bey — yes, we all still know him best as Mos Def — released a video in conjunction with a human rights organization this morning via The Guardian that shows him undergoing what he says is the standard process for force-feeding Guantanamo detainees. Or attempting to, anyway — after an excruciating attempt to submit to a nasogastric tube (up the nostrils, down to the stomach) he convulses in tears and begs to stop the experiment.

More than half of the 166 prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo are participating in a hunger strike that has been going on for months, military officials have said. Lawyers for the prisoners have asked the federal courts to stop the force-feeding, saying it’s akin to torture and prevents them from observing the religious fasting of Ramadan, which begins tonight. Justice Department lawyers responded last week that the process is a humane way to keep detainees from starving to death.

Bey, 39, has a background in liberal activism, railing against the government response to Hurricane Katrina and the conviction of Mumia Abu-Jamal. He made the film with the group Reprieve, which participated in the court filings, and it’s been instantly controversial — an unflinching look at a gruesome procedure, or extremely good acting?

Updated 5 p.m.

More Reliable Source: Kerry Washington; “This Town”; “The Butler”; Paula Deen; Pitbull; Lewinsky auction; Elena Kagan

 

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Amy Argetsinger | July 8, 2013