Rapper-actor Yasiin Bey, better know as Mos Def, voluntarily allowed himself to be force-fed to protest the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Bey joined forces with the human rights group Reprieve to demonstrate the process hunger strikers go through twice a day at the detention center. In a graphic and disturbing video, Bey, clothed in an orange jumpsuit, is held down as a feeding tube is inserted into his nose and down his stomach. The process was so painful that after just seconds Bey, visibly weeping, begged for it to stop.
The detainees’ hunger strike in Guantanamo began in February as a means to protest the conditions they face in the prison. Now 106 of the prison’s 166 detainees are on strike with 45 being force-fed daily.
Earlier this year, President Obama reaffirmed his pledge to close the detention center. “I don’t want these individuals to die,” he said of the hunger strikers during a press conference in late April. The president has since appointed a new envoy for the shutdown of the prison, where over half of the inmates have already been cleared for release.
Activism is nothing new for Bey, who has advocated numerous causes over the years. His endeavors include protesting the government’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina, raising awareness about an exiled political activist, and protesting the Jena Six incident.
At the end of the Gitmo clip, Bey describes his experience: “When the tube went in, the first part of it is not that bad, but then you get this burning. I got this burning. And it starts to be really unbearable, and it feels like something’s going into my brain, and it reached the back of my throat, and I really couldn’t take it.”