Mos Def Force Fed: Did He Just Become a Champion For Human Rights?


In the one of the most vivid displays of the callous techniques performed at Guantanamo Bay, famed actor and rapper, Mos Def, attempted to endure a force-feeding procedure conducted on detainees. Although the demonstration is unlikely to affect current policy, the graphic nature and emotion of the video will undoubtedly produce intense public reaction.

A display of true agony, the four and a half-minute video encapsulates Mos Def’s determination and desire to fight for basic human rights. Part of the campaign for #STANDFAST For Justice, the dramatic character of the video violates your senses. Before the procedure begins, you can see the fear in Mos Def's eyes. Then, only able to tolerate a few brief moments of pain, he refuses to accept any more of the procedure.

Like many, I have read numerous articles, which strive to convey the brutality of torture tactics. Yet I had never witnessed the tangible anguish I saw in this demonstration. The impact was profound.

The process appears excruciating: after restraining the individual to a chair, a thin, long tube is inserted through the nasal passage, with the intention of reaching your stomach. Of the estimated 558 detainees, 120 are on hunger strike, and 44 are force-fed. Every day, two full procedures take place, each taking up to 2 hours to complete. In 2005, the chief medical officer at the base asserted that the method was only used once a prisoner’s body mass-index fell below a certain level. Still, the UN condemns this action as a form of torture.

Mos Def’s ordeal is an important sensory experience that enables you to feel the inhumanity of torture. The video must bring attention to the challenges America faces in its continued “War on Terror.” Fundamentalists who seek to harm or destroy our citizens and our ideals should face prosecution and imprisonment, but should not be subject to acts that violate basic human rights. If the United States squanders the virtues upon which this nation was founded, we will succumb to the very principles we have fought fervently against.