Rapper's force-feeding video riles U.S. medics at Guantanamo Bay

Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:17pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A video protesting force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay detention camp in which rapper Mos Def is seen struggling and weeping while undergoing the procedure has done the rounds at the Navy base. U.S. medics who perform the real thing on hunger-striking prisoners say they're not impressed.

"It's ridiculous. It's 100 percent false," said a Navy nurse known as "Ensign Lodowick" at the detainee hospital where real names are protected for security reasons.

The New York rapper-actor who also goes by the name Yasiin Bey released the video earlier this month in collaboration with Reprieve, a London-based prisoners' rights group that represents several Guantanamo hunger strikers and which describes the force-feedings as painful, humiliating and a violation of medical ethics. (link.reuters.com/daz89t)

Journalists are not allowed to speak to any of the 166 captives held at the U.S. naval base in eastern Cuba nor to watch as nurses insert feeding tubes into the noses and down into the stomachs of hunger strikers who receive liquid nutrients while strapped into feeding chairs.

In accounts relayed through their lawyers, the prisoners have described rough treatment and excruciating pain.

In a series of interviews with Reuters inside the detainee hospital, Navy doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen said most of the 44 hunger strikers they tube-feed are calm, accepting and eager to get on with what has become a daily routine.

"Most are asking us to hurry up, make it go faster," said Lieutenant Junior Grade "Lucentio," a Navy nurse. Most of the nametags on the staff's camouflage uniforms are pseudonyms drawn from Shakespearean plays.

Some detainees drink the liquid meals, usually Ensure, directly from the can, the medics said. All of them eat some regular food some of the time, but in small enough quantities to maintain their status as hunger strikers and continue their protest against open-ended detention at Guantanamo, where most have been held for 11 years without charge.   Continued...

Hip hop artist Mos Def performs during the "Discover Music!" event at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, California October 28, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni