Former-detainees and detainee families issue statements 12 years after the camp was founded.
It is now 12 years since the blight on humanity that is Guantanamo Bay detention camp was established. Today 155 men continue to be detained within its barbed wire walls with 76 cleared for release. Among them is Shaker Aamer, the last British resident to be held there.
The camp’s creators still stake claim to the moral high ground and continue to spew forth empty rhetoric. The transfer last month of three ethnic Uyghur men from the camp was hailed as a ‘milestone’, while President Obama is not even close to fulfilling his election promise of closing down the camp.
But as the US continues to detain and torture innocent men, it is they who have suffered the most: they have taken their own values hostage and have mutilated their own laws beyond all recognition.
When we one day we look back at these bleak years it will be remembered how an empire lost its way because it failed to live up to its own standards, and how many of the men whose words are included below survived the full weight of an empire on their shoulders.
Colonel Talal al-Zahrani, father of Yassir al-Zahrani former Guantanamo prisoner from Saudi Arabia who died in Guantanamo in 2006:
“Twelve years on since the establishment of Guantanamo I say to the U.S. administration is not the pain sucked from the blood of the prisoners and from their sufferings enough, what kind of humans are you?”
Ali al-Darbi, brother of Ahmed al-Darbi, current Saudi Guantanamo prisoner:
“12 years gone but still my brother there. His children have grown up but did not have the chance to feel their father. His father passed away with the sorrow for his son. Our mother had a stroke but still has the hope to see her son one day before she dies and we hold her standing with the same hope.”
Murad Benchellali, French former Guantanamo prisoner (held 2002-2004):
“What went on in Abu Ghraib, and what was (and is) going on at Guantanamo, was no accident: it was a system. The goal of this system is to weaken the detainees, to bring them to the end of their mental and emotional tether, while keeping them alive at all costs. ―No blood, no foul, I read, was written on the walls of Abu Ghraib!”
Ahmed Errachidi, Moroccan former Guantanamo prisoner (held 2002-2007):
“There is no suitable expression to describe 12 years in Guantanamo but at least I can tell you that it has been 12 years of human rights violations and the dismantling of the rule of law by two US presidents who always claim that they are the true custodians and the promoters of human rights.”
Omar Deghayes, British Libyan former Guantanamo prisoner (held 2002-2007)
Another year makes twelve, one year after another and the world watches in silence as innocent souls suffer and fall one by one. They choose to turn a blind eye to their suffering and very few remember them once in a while.
We will never cease to call for justice and nothing will silence our voices. Having suffered for years myself in these infamous dungeons of torment, my heart pours out for the detainees and their families and unto them I pass my message, tomorrow will be better and with hardship comes ease.
Moazzam Begg, British former Guantanamo prisoner (2002-2005):
“Last year one of the prisoners learned about the death of his 16-year old son in a car accident. The last time he saw him was 12 years ago when he was three years old. How much more ‘justice’ is Guantanamo going to inflict before someone in power says, “enough!”
The men at Guantanamo have served the equivalent of a life sentence, though they haven’t even been charged or faced a jury of their peers. 155 men held by the world’s most powerful nation and largely forgotten by the rest. Fathers and mothers have died waiting for their sons locked in the limbo of Guantanamo, wives wait as living widows while sons and daughters have been orphaned in all but name.
CAGE has been campaigning against the unjust detention of Guantanamo detainees for over ten years and was the first organisation to compile a comprehensive and authoritative list of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. It is the only campaign group to have former detainees among its staff. CAGE continues to call for the immediate closure of Guantanamo Bay detention camp and for the end of the global War on Terror.