Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) force-feeding video launches campaign to support Guantanamo hunger strikers

Yasiin Bey appears in a video launched today demonstrating the standard operating procedure for force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay.

Made by human rights charity Reprieve and Bafta-award winning director Asif Kapadia, the film shows U.S. actor and rapper formerly known as Mos Def experiencing the procedure.

The video launches a campaign to rally support for Guantanamo prisoners who are on hunger strike in protest against their detention without charge or trial. The campaign asks members of the public to undertake their own short-term hunger strikes in solidarity with the prisoners and donate the time to support them, while also raising the issue with their political representatives. The website, http://www.standfastforjustice.org/, consolidates the total number of hours of hunger-striking undertaken in this way.

Prisoners in Guantanamo have been hunger-striking since February this year, with the total number involved now well over 100. The strike is in protest against their ongoing detention, despite the vast majority of prisoners never having been charged or tried, and over half the remaining population having even been cleared for release by the U.S. government. However, their peaceful protest has met with an increasingly aggressive response from camp authorities, including force-feeding and violent procedures known as “forcible cell extractions” (FCEs).

Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) force fed 070813 by Reprieve-The GuardianCommenting, Reprieve’s director and attorney for Guantanamo prisoners Clive Stafford Smith said: “President Obama could take the steps needed to release cleared prisoners from Guantanamo any time he likes, but so far has lacked the political courage to do so. We hope that public solidarity with the hunger strikers in Guantanamo will persuade him to change his mind.”

To learn more, read “Obama urged to halt Ramadan force-feeding at Guantánamo” in the U.K. Guardian.

Singing through the torture

According to the Business Insider in a June 15, 2013, story headlined, “Guantánamo Prisoners Singing Akon’s ‘Locked Up’ While Being Force Fed Is Surprisingly Relevant,” Dr. Emily Keram, a forensic psychiatrist, interviewed guards at Guantanamo for a court-ordered April 2009 report.

"Force Feeding" by Emory Douglas, world renowned Black Panther Party artist
“Force Feeding” by Emory Douglas, world renowned Black Panther Party artist
Quoting the Associated Press, they report: “Guards told her that prisoners would sometimes sing as they were being force-fed; a favorite was hip hop artist Akon’s ‘Locked Up.’”

Here are the lyrics:

Locked up, they won’t let me out
And I had a long day in court, shit stressed me out
Won’t gimme the bail, they can’t get me out …
I don’t wana live here, the walls is gray the clothes is orange
The phones is broke, the food is garbage …
They won’t let me out, they won’t let me out, (I’m locked up)
They won’t let me out, no, they won’t let me out, (I’m locked up)
They won’t let me out, they won’t let me out, (I’m locked up)
They won’t let me out, no, they won’t let me out