Friday, January 12, 2007

If I die, please remember that there was a human being named Jumah at Guantanamo

A voice from Gitmo's darkness

A current detainee speaks of the torture and humiliation he has experienced at Guantanamo since 2002.

By Jumah al-Dossari, JUMAH AL-DOSSARI is a 33-year-old citizen of Bahrain. This article was excerpted from letters he wrote to his attorneys. Its contents have been deemed unclassified by the Department of Defense.
January 11, 2007


Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba — I AM WRITING from the darkness of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo in the hope that I can make our voices heard by the world. My hand quivers as I hold the pen.

In January 2002, I was picked up in Pakistan, blindfolded, shackled, drugged and loaded onto a plane flown to Cuba. When we got off the plane in Guantanamo, we did not know where we were. They took us to Camp X-Ray and locked us in cages with two buckets — one empty and one filled with water. We were to urinate in one and wash in the other.

At Guantanamo, soldiers have assaulted me, placed me in solitary confinement, threatened to kill me, threatened to kill my daughter and told me I will stay in Cuba for the rest of my life. They have deprived me of sleep, forced me to listen to extremely loud music and shined intense lights in my face. They have placed me in cold rooms for hours without food, drink or the ability to go to the bathroom or wash for prayers. They have wrapped me in the Israeli flag and told me there is a holy war between the Cross and the Star of David on one hand and the Crescent on the other. They have beaten me unconscious.

What I write here is not what my imagination fancies or my insanity dictates. These are verifiable facts witnessed by other detainees, representatives of the Red Cross, interrogators and translators.

During the first few years at Guantanamo, I was interrogated many times. My interrogators told me that they wanted me to admit that I am from Al Qaeda and that I was involved in the terrorist attacks on the United States. I told them that I have no connection to what they described. I am not a member of Al Qaeda. I did not encourage anyone to go fight for Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have done nothing but kill and denigrate a religion. I never fought, and I never carried a weapon. I like the United States, and I am not an enemy. I have lived in the United States, and I wanted to become a citizen.

I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States. And I have to say that not all American soldiers stationed in Cuba tortured us or mistreated us. There were soldiers who treated us very humanely. Some even cried when they witnessed our dire conditions. Once, in Camp Delta, a soldier apologized to me and offered me hot chocolate and cookies. When I thanked him, he said, "I do not need you to thank me." I include this because I do not want readers to think that I fault all Americans.

But, why, after five years, is there no conclusion to the situation at Guantanamo? For how long will fathers, mothers, wives, siblings and children cry for their imprisoned loved ones? For how long will my daughter have to ask about my return? The answers can only be found with the fair-minded people of America.

I would rather die than stay here forever, and I have tried to commit suicide many times. The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy people, and I have been destroyed. I am hopeless because our voices are not heard from the depths of the detention center.

If I die, please remember that there was a human being named Jumah at Guantanamo whose beliefs, dignity and humanity were abused. Please remember that there are hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo suffering the same misfortune. They have not been charged with any crimes. They have not been accused of taking any action against the United States.

Show the world the letters I gave you. Let the world read them. Let the world know the agony of the detainees in Cuba.

LA Times, via MeFi


His full testimony.

This is being done in our names.

17 comments:

Random said...

"This is being done in our names."

No, it is claimed it is being done in our names. Surely it is not irrelevant to recall in cases like this that it is standard Al Qaeda training and procedure for operatives to claim torture if they get captured alive? I think we should look for rather more solid evidence than this guys unsupported testimony before beating ourselves up, frankly. To take one example:

"What I write here is not what my imagination fancies or my insanity dictates. These are verifiable facts witnessed by other detainees, representatives of the Red Cross, interrogators and translators."

Do you seriously believe that even the stupidest US guard would have tortured a prisoner in front of the *Red Cross*? Where's the report from the Red Cross that they've witnessed acts of torture? If that doesn't flag up alarm bells, then I don't know what would.

asher said...

Talk about a crock....he writes well for a regular guy from Pakistan.

beepbeepitsme said...

There is an australian who has been in guantanomo bay for 5 years.

The problem as I see it, is that these people are not getting an opportunity to a trial. The whole idea of being detained is that a person will get their moment in court. They will have the due process of law.

Now I know that there are many people who think that no matter who their governenment arrests, that that person must be guilty. The idea of the law doesn't work that way. In the world I was brought up in, people were innocent until proven guilty. (This didn't mean that you let them go, but that all prisoners had civil rights. One of these rights was the right to the due process of law.

In this new world, people are guilty until proven innocent. This kind of thinking, I fear, will backfire on all of us.

It is difficult to claim the "high moral ground" when one's actions are not ethical or moral. It would be best if we took this into consideration.

Five years is too long to wait to have an opportunity to make your case. Under thses circumstances, anyone can be held indefinitely without recourse to due legal process. That doesn't sit well with my moral compass. And I am surprised that it doesn't set off alarm bells for most people as well.

CyberKitten said...

Beepbeep said: And I am surprised that it doesn't set off alarm bells for most people as well.

I'm not surprised. I'm appalled.

asher said...

By the way..did you know giving U.S. marines huge Israeli flags is standard issue in a prison situation? I wonder how big it was to wrap a human being in one? And how many do they have?

Laura said...

We have proof that these sorts of things have and do happen. Not only from Gitmo but also from Abu Graib. Instead of trying to poke holes in this particular letter, why aren't you all asking the more obvious question:

What can we, as citizens of a free and democratic society founded on the principles of due process, do to ensure that these things do not happen under our watch?


And by the way... "he writes well for a regular guy from Pakistan."

What a terribly racist comment that is. Not to mention that you obviously didn't READ the letter. He is from Bahrain. He was picked up in Pakistan. Bahrain has a very high level of education. There are also, contrary to Western perception, many well-educated people in Pakistan. Not to mention many people in 'Merica who can't read and write properly. Seriously, wtf does your comment have to do with anything??

asher said...

Laura is right...who cares if it's all made up. The important thing is that people are suffering and we have to give them all the same rights as given to anyone under the Constitution.

This guy was obviously picked up for doing nothing, was able to write a long letter and get it on the internet.
How many American detainees can say the same thing?

Laura said...

Asher... Actually, no. The same rights accorded to anyone under International Law...

asher said...

Laura,

I'm sorry...could you enlighten us as to the rights given to enemy combatants that are captured under the law of engagement of the Geneva Convention or any other document you'd like to cite to.

Random said...

Laura,

"Fake but accurate" eh? He was actually picked up on the Afghan/Pakistani border trying to sneak into Pakistan in late 2001 by the way. One could legitimately ask what he was doing there at the time. I doubt he was merely there to see the sights (the Taliban blew them all up, remember?).

And Asher has a point BTW - if he was picked up as an AlQaeda operative then he has no rights at all in international law - the arresting authorities could have put a bullet in the back of his head and it would have been perfectly legal. The Geneva conventions protect uniformed soldiers of a signatory state, not terrorists.

asher said...

Yes,
We should all see "The Bridge on the River Kwai" again. The british solider insists that his japanese captor abide by the geneva convention. The Japanense commander throws the book at his face and says: "You speak to me of words! We are at WAR!"

bd said...

schmuck, we were at war against fascism, and, thank god, the good guys won. the us set up an international system of law that has been the framework through which its power has been exercised for the past 60 years, and these morons who thought we could export democracy at gunpoint want to shred the mere "words" that are the very source of our authority.

Juggling Mother said...

Random said "Do you seriously believe that even the stupidest US guard would have tortured a prisoner in front of the *Red Cross*? Where's the report from the Red Cross that they've witnessed acts of torture?"

um, here

The report recieved wide publicity at the time.

How quickly we forget.....

Random said...

JM,

Sorry if I sound snarky, but given that you appear to think that that rebuts my comment can you please point to the bit where the Red cross claim to have witnessed acts of torture? That they may (the article is paraphrasing a leaked copy of a memorandum drafted by someone who read the original report - third generation testimony at best in other words) have described conditions there as being tantamount to torture is hardly the same thing.

Many thanks...

CyberKitten said...

bd said: the US set up an international system of law that has been the framework through which its power has been exercised for the past 60 years

ERm... Wasn't that the International Community in the guise of the United Nations? Also, didn't the Geneva Conventions come about because of WW One? Sure America was involved but I'm not sure if they actually wrote them.. I don't think that the US alone set up the framework of International Law...

jewish philosopher said...

I would just be curious to know what Mr. AL-DOSSARI's opinion is about Jews.

Laura said...

I was not speaking of the Geneva Conventions, those govern only the treatment of soliders and civilians in times of war.

However, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the US is a signatory, applies to all human beings, regardless of whether we call them "enemy combatants" or not.

I'm not saying that he maybe didn't engage in behavior that warranted attention and maybe even detention. But the entire premise of Gitmo - detaining people without formal charges, legal representation, subject to inhuman treatment - for an indefinite amount of time is not only against International law, but is entirely UN-American.