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Tag Archives: Guantanamo

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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Moath al-Alwi: July 2013 (The Only Way I Have Left to Cry Out for Life, Freedom & Dignity)

A month ago, the guards here at Guantanamo Bay gave me an orange jumpsuit. After years in white and brown, the colours of compliant prisoners, I am very proud to wear my new clothes. The colour orange is Guantanamo’s banner. Anyone who knows the truth about this place knows that orange is its only true colour.

My name is Moath al-Alwi. I have been a prisoner of the United States at Guantanamo since 2002. I was never charged with any crime and I have not received a fair trial in US courts. To protest this injustice, I began a hunger strike in February. Now, twice a day, the US military straps me down to a chair and pushes a thick tube down my nose to force-feed me.

When I choose to remain in my cell in an act of peaceful protest against the force-feeding, the prison authorities send in a Forced Cell Extraction team: six guards in full riot gear. Those guards are deliberately brutal to punish me for my protest. They pile up on top of me to the point that I feel like my back is about to break. They then carry me out and strap me into the restraint chair, which we hunger strikers call the torture chair.

A new twist to this routine involves the guards restraining me to the chair with my arms cuffed behind my back. The chest strap is then tightened, trapping my arms between my torso and the chair’s backrest. This is done despite the fact that the torture chair features built-in arm restraints. It is extremely painful to remain in this position.

Even after I am tied to the chair, a guard digs his thumbs under my jaw, gripping me at the pressure points and choking me as the tube is inserted down my nose and into my stomach. They always use my right nostril now because my left one is swollen shut after countless feeding sessions. Sometimes, the nurses get it wrong, snaking the tube into my lung instead, and I begin to choke.

The US military medical staff conducting the force-feeding at Guantanamo is basically stuffing us prisoners to bring up our weight – mine had dropped from 168 pounds to 108 pounds, before they began force-feeding me. They even use constipation as a weapon, refusing to give hunger strikers laxatives despite the fact that the feeding solutions inevitably cause severe bloating.

If a prisoner vomits after this ordeal, the guards immediately return him to the restraint chair for another round of force-feeding. I’ve seen this inflicted on people up to three times in a row.

Even vital medications for prisoners have been stopped by military medical personnel as additional pressure to break the hunger strike.

Those military doctors and nurses tell us that they are simply obeying orders from the colonel in charge of detention operations, as though that officer were a doctor or as if doctors had to follow his orders rather than their medical ethics or the law.

But they must know that what they are doing is wrong, else they would not have removed the nametags with their pseudonyms or numbers. They don’t want to be identifiable in any way, for fear of being held accountable someday by their profession or the world.

I spend the rest of my time in my solitary confinement cell, on 22-hour lockdown. The authorities have deprived us of the most basic necessities. No toothbrushes, toothpaste, blankets, soap or towels are allowed in our cells. If you ask to go to the shower, the guards refuse. They bang on our doors at night, depriving us of sleep.

They have also instituted a humiliating genital search policy. I asked a guard why. He answered:

“So you don’t come out to your meetings and calls with your lawyers and give them information to use against us.”

But the prisoners’ weights are as low as their spirits are high. Every man I know here is determined to remain on hunger strike until the US government begins releasing prisoners.

Those of you on the outside might find that difficult to comprehend. My family certainly does. If I’m lucky, I’m allowed four calls with them each year. My mother spent most of my most recent call pleading with me to stop my hunger strike. I had only this to say in response: “Mom, I have no choice.” It is the only way I have left to cry out for life, freedom and dignity.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Letters from Moath al-Alwi, Risala

 

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Abdelhadi Faraj: July 2013 (This is My Call from Behind these Rusty Bars)

This is my call to the outside world from behind these rusty bars, in this monstrous cell. Does the world know what is happening in this prison?

Despite the long years we the prisoners have spent in this place from 2002 to 2013, the American government does not seem interested in solving the problem. The past few months have been among the harshest lived by the prisoners here. During the Bush years, solutions seemed possible. Under Obama, it seems like there is no will to solve the problem.

I once lived communally with the other prisoners in Camp Six. Now we are all in solitary confinement here, with only two hours of recreation a day. Some prisoners are too weak and sick to ever leave their cells as a result of the hunger strike and the U.S. military’s reaction to it.

The military here has used brute force against the hunger strikers. They have beaten us and used rubber-coated bullets and tear gas against us. They have confiscated everything from our cells, from toothbrushes to blankets and books. They have confined us to cold, windowless cells, beyond the reach of the sun’s rays or a fresh breeze. Sometimes, we don’t even know if it’s day or night out.

It isn’t unusual for prison guards here to search prisoners’ genital parts and their rectum ten times in a single day.

Daily, I am forced into a restraint chair, my arms, legs and chest tied down tight. Big guards grab my head with both hands. I feel like my skull is being crushed. Then, so-called nurses violently push a thick tube down my nostril. Blood rushes out of my nose and mouth. The nurses turn on the feeding solution full throttle. I cannot begin to describe the pain that causes.

Recently, a nurse brutally yanked out the force-feeding tube, threw it on my shoulder, and left the cell, leaving me tied down to the chair. Later, the nurse returned to the cell, took the tube off my shoulder and began to reinsert it into my nose. I asked him to cleanse and purify the tube first but he refused.

When I later tried to complain to another nurse about the incident, the other nurse threatened to force the feeding tube up my rear, not down my nose, if I didn’t suspend my hunger strike.

And when I tried taking the matter to a senior medical officer, he told me that they would strap me to a bed and make me urinate through a catheter forced into my penis if I kept up my peaceful protest.

I used to think I was the only one coping with severe joint pain, a weakened memory, having a hard time concentrating, and feeling constantly distracted as a result of all this. But I’ve since discovered that many hunger strikers struggle with the same symptoms. Without realizing it, some of the hunger strikers even speak to themselves out loud when they’re alone.

But we also know that there are peaceful protests in solidarity with our plight in many countries. Even in America itself, there are protests demanding that the U.S. government close this prison that has hurt America’s reputation. And international criticism mounts daily.

We the hunger strikers continue to demand our rights. President Obama can begin by releasing those of us who have been cleared for release years ago, followed by the prisoners who have not been charged with any crime after eleven years in captivity.

Despite the difficulties, the hard conditions, and the challenges created by the U.S. government, those of us on hunger strike will continue protesting until our demands for justice are met.

 
 

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What Have You Done in the Last 11 Years?


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For Johina Aamer, her brothers and her mother, the technical aspects of Shaker Aamer’s case come second to their daily worry: they have not been with Shaker for 11 years – soon to be 12 years. Everything else becomes peripheral to this. This family just wants their father home and a wife wants her husband back. It is easy to dismiss 11 years as another statistic to this case without really thinking about how long it is. So Johina wants to ask you: “What have you done in the last 11 years?”

Our upmost gratitude to all who featured in this video in support of Johina.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2013 in Collateral Damage, Videos

 

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Fayiz Mohamad Al Kandari: March 21, 2013 (For Those in the World Who Pray for Us)

al-Kandari Lantern

 

Fayiz Lantern Letter

Dear Mr. Warner,

I made this lantern with my brothers – it’s made with bits of paper and cardboard. We used a water bottle sanded on the floor as glass. We painted it with bits of paint and fruit juice. It’s held together by pressure only.

We made this lantern for those in the world who remember and pray for us during this time of suffering. Let it’s light fill you. Use it to bring peace to your heart.

Thank You.

Fayiz Mohamad Al Kandry
ISN: 552

 

 

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Fulan: 2010 (A Witness & A Call)

A Witness and a Call

From your imprisoned brothers in the Guantanamo of Britain (Belmarsh Prison)
To the Muslims all over the World:

This is the second letter in which we describe to you the oppression we experience at the hands of the British, as a result of what you know of the policies of this country and its engagement in all forms of oppression as done by other countries like Israel and US against the Muslims, but (this oppression is done) in a manner that fools the weak and simple minded.

We had mentioned to you before that the situation here in Belmarsh is akin, without any difference except in its portrayal from that which occurs to your Muslim brothers in Guantanamo, and their newspapers, and some of the more truthful journalists testify to this; but the government tries to conceal all this from the media and strives to do as it wishes in a secretive manner.

When the government began to find out that the knowledge of its oppression had begun to leak into the public domain it brought a TV crew which began to take photos of Belmarsh prison which had become a source of shame for it, like Guantanamo became a shame on US, in an attempt to enhance its image. It further took photos of some of the short term benefits, such as the provision of good food and interviewed some of the prisoners who were benefiting from some of these benefits, and likewise photographed some of activities that occur within the prison, making the prison out to be a paradise that someone outside it would desire.

Frankly, your brothers here didn’t know of this deception that was happening in this land, nay, they thought it was restricted to our home lands, but it became clear that all the lies that are told in our lands, were taken and derived from the policies of this country and its government.

The situation of your brothers has become unacceptably bad, for some of your brothers almost lost their minds, and others have begun to suffer from psychological diseases. This is not as a result of nothing; rather this was a pre-planned evil and malevolent policy to cause your brothers to reach these levels.

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Posted by on May 19, 2013 in Letters from Fulan, Risala

 

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J’écris mon Secret Désir

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J’écris mon secret désir:

J’ai tenté de le défendre avec mes yeux,
Mais j’ai regardé autour de moi et j’étais au pied
du mur.
Le destin m’avait trouvé.

Ma côte est cassée,
Et je ne trouve personne pour me soigner.

Mon corps est frêle,
Et je ne vois devant moi aucun allègement.

Devant moi, la mer tumultueuse,
Le pays m’appelle encore.
Mais je vogue dans mon esprit.

Les impies m’ont assassiné dans ma maison.

Je rêve de quelqu’un qui me donnerait du
réconfort;
La nuit je ne peux pas dormir, dans ma bouche un
goût de bile.

Les larmes du désir d’un autre être m’affectent;
Ma poitrine ne peut accueillir l’immensité de
l’émotion.

Le Livre d’Allah me console,
Et atténue les peines que j’endure.
Le Livre d’Allah adoucit mes douleurs,
Bien qu’on lui a déclaré la guerre.

Je me tiens droit et souris à la figure de la misère.
Je suis satisfait.

Oh Père, dis à celui qui pleure,
“Ne m’oublie pas, comme je ne t’oublierai pas”
Il comprendra ma condition.

Et lorsque tu frôleras les choses familières de la vie –
Les tapis bédouins, les branches entrelacées,
Le vol des tourterelles –
Souviens toi de moi.

Je salue tous les frères,
Et prie pour que la paix accompagne les fidèles.
Je dis salam à Shwayman,
Et à tous ceux que j’aime,
Et à tous ceux qui me manquent.
N’oublie pas, prie Allah pour ceux aimés de moi.
Peut-être qu’Allah, dans Sa Grande Clémence, aura
pitié de moi.

Abdullah Majid Al Noaimi, former Guantanamo detainee

Read this poem in English

 
 

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