Obama Administration Urged to Halt Force-Feeding of Prisoners, Mos Def Subjects Himself To It In Protest (VIDEO)
Different religions have different sets of rules when it comes to eating.
Many Jews keep a kosher diet that has been prepared according to Jewish dietary law.
Practicing Catholics abstain from eating meat during Lent and the church urges followers to refrain from meat every Friday throughout the year.
Observed as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, Ramadan is a monthlong ritual, which includes fasting from sunrise to sunset.
While Muslims across the world will begin the tradition today, four Guantanamo detainees, who are currently practicing a hunger strike, are fighting the US government to end force-feeding during the 29 to 30 day ceremony.
Just in time for Ramadan actor and rapper Yasiin Bey -- aka Mos Def -- subjects himself to the force-feedings that are experienced by the Guantanamo strikers on a daily basis in a video release to the Guardian to illustrate the inhumane nature of the practice.
Out of the 166 detainees -- that was the official number last week -- 106 are protesting their sustained imprisonment without trial with hunger-strikes. At least 45 of the strikers are being force-fed through tubes straight to the stomach or intestinal tract.
The US government has agreed to to respect the daylight fast by conducting force-feedings on the 45 hunger-strikers only at night with the exception of "unforeseen emergency or operational issues."
Muslim leaders are urging the US Goverment to end the practice all-together, but to specifically respect the detainees right to practice their religion as desired.
In an official statement the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the US said:
"We urge Pentagon officials to end the cruel practice of force-feeding prisoners because it violates medical ethics and the international legal prohibition of cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees. The practice is always wrong, and is particularly offensive during Ramadan, the month of fasting. Cruelty is cruelty, whether it is inflicted during daylight or after sunset."
Last week, a lawsuit filed with a federal court in Washington asserted that feeding only at night could endanger the hunger strikers due to extended periods without water.
The 20 to 30 minuted feedings are generally conducted twice a day. It involves sending a tube through the nose directly to the stomach. Detainees can be restrained in a chair for up to two hours after the feeding is conducted until an x-ray affirms that the nutrient has reached the digestive system. Prisoners can then be moved to a "dry cell" to be watched for another hour to ensure the nutrient is not dispelled through vomiting.
To highlight the inhumane nature of the force-feeding human rights group Reprieve released a video directed by award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, starring Yasiin Bey -- aka Mos Def. In the four-minute video, the actor and rapper experiences the same force-feeding that prisoners are subjected to twice daily.
In the disturbing video, Bey has a tube shoved down his nose and down his throat by a volunteer medical team. When it was first pulled out, he was unable to go through with another attempt to reinsert it.
World Medical Association (WMA) Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers cites the cruel nature of the practice. "[F]orcible feeding is never ethically acceptable. Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment."
The American Medical Association and International Committee of the Red Cross hold similar views on force-feeding.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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