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Category Archives: Letters from Shaker Aamer

Shaker Aamer: August 2013 (It Feels So Strange to Feel My Name Slipping Away from Me)

My name is Shaker. I am also known as Sawad Al-Madany because I was born in the Holy City of Medina. Please can you remember these names for me, because I hardly can anymore.

Here, they call me 239. In fact, I call myself 239. It feels so strange to witness my name slipping away from me. I can’t do anything about it.

I wonder how long it is going to take for all of us here in Guantánamo to slip away from the world’s memory?

I have not lost hope. No, I have not! Or have I? I am not sure. But I am still writing: is this not a sign of hope?

Yes, we have lost years of our lives here – and some (three times as many as have been convicted) have actually died.

We have lost our sanity, our health, our humanity and our dignity. Yes, we seem to have lost everything.

But I believe we are gradually rediscovering hope and, with hope, we will relocate our lives and everything else that is meaningful.

Meanwhile our tormentors are losing everything and, the more they lose, the more they torment us. I can’t describe what they are doing. The world must hasten to compel the US government to solve this dilemma before it is too late. Candles cannot burn forever.

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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Letters from Shaker Aamer, Risala

 

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Shaker Aamer: May 2013 (They Try to Reduce You to Nothingness)

I began my hunger strike on February 12, 2013. There was a time when I worried about a whole lot of medical problems that were causing me suffering: the knee that has caused me pain since I was beaten up early in my detention; my back which gets re-injured each time the FCE Team [the Forcible Cell Extraction team, formerly known as the Emergency Reaction Force] comes in and beats me up some more; the kidney trouble that  is made worse by the yellow water that comes through the taps round here; the swelling in my ankles caused by wearing shackles every day.

But since I started the hunger strike, my concerns about all this have pretty much been overridden by the endless desire for food.

My treatment was bad before, but since the beginning of April I have been treated with particular venom. They started by taking my medical things. I had an extra blanket to lessen my rheumatism, but that was soon gone. My backbrace went at the same time. The pressure socks I had to keep the build-up of water down did not last long. Then they came for my toothbrush. Next, my sheet was taken, along with my shoes. My legal documents vanished soon after, leaving me only my kids’ drawings on the wall. They were the last to go.

And now I am left alone. Since 8am Monday, April 15, I have had nothing, not even my flip-flops. I am meant to sleep on concrete, and when I say alone, I mean alone in a very lonely world. The bean hole is what they call the small hatch on the door through which they normally pass my food. Recently they have started using a padlock to close it all day long. The OIC [Officer In Charge] keeps the key so no one else can open it.

One reason they do this is that, despite my being on hunger strike, they were making me take the meals through the bean hole at lunchtime, and then refusing to take the clam shell [the polystyrene platter] back until the evening meal. I couldn’t throw it out of my cell, since the bean hole is locked. So it just sat there. I used to think the food round here smells disgusting, but when you’ve not eaten for two months or more, having any food sit around in the cell is pure torture. But then that’s the point, isn’t it?

I often quote 1984 by George Orwell (it’s probably the book I’ve read more than any other but the Holy Koran): ‘Torture is for torture, the System is for the System.’

They have taken to sending the FCE team in for everything. That’s if I’m lucky. Normally, if I ask for something, I just don’t get it. That includes my medicine. Then, if I want water — and I have to ask for a bottle, as you can’t drink the stuff that comes out of the tap — they don’t bring it until the night shift.

The FCE team comes in, some 22-stone soldier puts his knees on my back while the others pin my arms and legs to the floor, and they leave me a plastic bottle. You’re allowed only one bottle at a time, as having two is somehow a threat to US national security. That means from morning until night, I have nothing to drink unless I conserve it carefully.    Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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