Ramadan began on Monday.* More than one hundred of the people still being held in Guantanamo Bay are on hunger strike. More than forty of them are being force-fed. This isn’t pretty. A tube is forced up the nose, down the throat, and into the stomach. It’s incredibly painful. One of the men currently on hunger strike is Samir Moqbel. Prisoners’ written communications with their lawyers are apparently censored, but since Samir was allowed to speak to them on the telephone, they have been able to publicise his words.
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping. There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.**
And in case you can’t quite imagine what this might be like, actor and rapper Yasiin Bey, (Mos Def), has made a short film with Human Rights Organisation Reprieve, showing dinner-time, Guantanamo Bay style. Needless to say, some viewers might find some scenes upsetting.
*Ramadan is, of course, a time of fasting. Islamic leaders and those of other faiths have called on Obama to halt the force-feeding during Ramadan.
**You can read more of Samir Moqbel’s horrific story here.