Another year has passed and London continues to remember the injustice of the US government in endorsing guilt by nationality with respect to Yemeni prisoners held. I spoke at a protest organised by the London Guantanamo campaign.
Yemenis in Guantanamo represented and still do represent the largest group of detainees, out of 158 detainees still left that consists of about 91. It wasn’t enough these men suffered physical and mental abuse even before getting to Guantanamo but they all then went on to suffer years of torture and abuse,never were they charged or convicted or had any connections to any terror crimes. The US government is effectively endorsing guilt by nationality. All of the detainees have been subjected at some point or another to solitary confinement some having to endure lengthier times than others. The failure of the US in recognizing INTL law and the bigger failure of the INTL community to act in getting the US to comply by these laws after over a decade is a frightening prospect in this so called war on terror and nothing short of a disgrace.
As most of you will be aware the unlawfully held detainees a few months ago went on mass hunger strikes and although it wasn’t the first of hunger strikes in Guantanamo, to me it spoke volumes. These men would rather take away one of the only necessities provided or die trying in order to get the world to listen and most importantly in a glimmer of hope so that they may gain freedom. What we must always remember is the rendition of these men to Guantanamo was on most accounts based on mere suspicions and heresy– Where else in the world would it be accepted for someone to be deemed guilty until proven innocent due to their nationality? After years of torture and false imprisonment the detainees still fought to prove their innocence and even when they did so and were cleared for immediate release by US courts and the Task Force – They still had to endure living in limbo, simply because the US government which unlawfully imprisoned them based on suspicions were arguing that now they suspected these individuals were too damaged physically and more so mentally, due to the constant abuse and torture endured that there wasn’t a safe enough rehabilitation centre or environment to reintegrate them into society.
I’ll just read out a short piece from a recent letter from Emad Abdallah Hassan a Yemeni national and a hunger striker for several years now – a prisoner cleared for release several years ago, yet still unlawfully detained. He states “The latest experiment is different. Now they begin with 1500cc of formula called TwoCal – four cans in the morning and four in the night, served up each time with 700cc of water. Once I finish each ‘meal,’ they fill the feed bag with 50cc of an anti-constipation medication and 450cc of water. As this scientific study shows – at least in the experience of this guinea pig, your correspondent – this method accelerates the stomach function and makes the hunger striker defecate on himself in the chair.” I won’t go into further detail as it’s indescribably inhumane what they continue to do to him. But I’d like to also add that he states “If I vomit on myself at any time during the procedure, they start the atrocity all over again, though they don’t necessarily let me wash off before it begins.” I find it despicable that this sort of barbaric way of torture in someone who has been cleared for release is still able to go on.
I believe the Yemeni government to be just as complicit in the crimes committed and which continue to be committed in Guantanamo as intervention on behalf of their citizens – many who have been cleared for release should’ve come years ago. Although there have been reports that US government and the Yemeni government are negotiating and the Yemeni President Hadi has quite rightfully said “We believe that keeping someone in detention for over ten years without due process is clear-cut tyranny,” I still find it preposterous that the US can actually have conditions of release for what is detainees lawful human right.
One of the most highlighted cases was the unfortunate suspicious death of Adnan Latif a mentally disturbed detainee as most doctors and reports describe him, whose death has aroused dozens of unanswered questions, like most detainees he was never charged with a crime and was cleared for release twice. Yet even after numerous reports deemed his rendition to only be worsening his mental stability he was still not released. It seems the US government has normalized injustice in the name of the war on terror while the whole world watches and continues to be silent. As I watched a report of Adnan Latif’s body arriving back home to Yemen to at last be put to rest, I couldn’t help but think the stories of the men of Guantanamo will go far beyond the walls of Guantanamo. That day I saw a son break down after seeing his father for the first time, a father bid farewell to hope of a semi-normal life and yet another family brewing with grief and I no doubt resentment towards the US so called justice.
I would like to conclude with last few lines of Adnan Latif’s poem:
Where is the world to save us from torture? Where is the world to save us from the fire and sadness? Where is the world to save the hunger strikers? But we are content, on the side of justice and right, Worshiping the Almighty. And our motto on this island is, salaam.