Compliance Or Exploitation? Guantanamo Bay Force-Feeds Muslim Inmates


Ramadan is obligatory for all Muslims; only those who are diabetic, ill, and pregnant are exempt from this. Even the inmates of Guantanamo Bay, who are Muslim, participate in Ramadan and abstain from food, water, and intercourse. The guards of Guantanamo Bay respect this religious belief and allow Muslim inmates to participate in Ramadan. But cruelty manifests as the Guantanamo Bay guards force-feed hunger-striking Muslim inmates before sunrise and after sunset, complying with the guidelines of Ramadan.

"We understand that observing the daytime fast and taking nothing by mouth or vein is an essential component of Muslim observance of Ramadan," said a prison spokesman. "And for those detainees on hunger strike, we will ensure that our preservation of life through enteral feeding does not violate the tenets of their faith." Thus, Guantanamo Bay officials may respect religious beliefs, but they are simultaneously showing a complete disregard for ethics, privacy, and human rights as inmates continue to be subjected to inhumane methods of ingestion.

Guantanamo Bay guards feed the Muslim inmates by inserting nasogastric tubes through the nose, down the throat and into the stomach. The schedule consists of two nightly force-feedings in which the guards feed Muslim inmates between 7:44 p.m. and 6:28 a.m. The guards also immobilize the Muslim inmates by shackling their arms and hands and securing them with belts, decreasing resistance from the inmates. Stephen Chapman, a columnist from the Odessa American, records a testimony from an inmate who has endured the force-feedings. "The process of being force-fed hurts a great deal. Sometimes they botch putting the tube in, and tears stream down my cheek," said the inmate. "They shackle our feet with metal chains and shackle our arms and hands. Then they put us in a force-feeding chair and tie us with belts." From this testimony, it is clear that Guantanamo Bay officials and guards inflict excruciating agony and torture on Muslim inmates, unconcerned by the tears and screams.

Hip-hop artist Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, released a video of his encounter with the force-feedings at Guantanamo Bay on July 8. This video reveals the pain that Muslim inmates and others on hunger strike at Guantanamo endure as Bey voluntarily undergoes a force-feeding procedure. Bey enlightens Americans, and probably the world, in this video as he is quickly brought to tears and screams, begging the officers to stop the procedure. Upon his completion, Bey shares his experience with viewers.

"I really didn't know what to expect. The tube went ... goes in and the first part isn't bad. But ... then you get this burning ... and then it starts to become unbearable," said Bey in the video. "It feels like something ... is going into my brain and then to the back of my throat ... and I really couldn't take it."

In addition to Bey's viral testimony, another factor places Guantanamo Bay and the United States in a negative light. By feeding Muslim inmates between 7:44 p.m. and 6:28 a.m., Guantanamo Bay officers are exploiting a loophole,, reaffirming their perception as manipulative and unethical.

The United States is also cast in a continuing negative light as the government refuses to end the force-feedings at Guantanamo Bay. "In court papers rejecting a petition by detainees, the United States said the feedings provide 'essential nutrition and medical care' and do not interfere with the detainees' religious fasting during Ramadan, the holy month that began on the evening of July 8," said CNN. This damages the image of the U.S. government and portrays it as an entity that disregards the cries and demands of certain people. Thus, the notion for ensuring that Muslim inmates receive nourishment may only be an excuse. Upon this revelation, this makes Americans and the global public wonder what else Guantanamo Bay is hiding.