[Ppnews] Guantanamo detainee subjected to ill-treatment almost every day

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 15 11:11:05 EDT 2009

Guantanamo detainee claims abuse

Al-Qurani said he has been subjected to ill-treatment almost every day

An inmate in the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has told 
Al Jazeera that he has been beaten while in custody and had tear gas 
used on him after refusing to leave his cell.

Mohammad al-Qurani, a Chadian national, said in a phone call to Al 
Jazeera that the alleged ill-treatment "started about 20 days" before 
Barack Obama became US president and "since then I've been subjected 
to it almost every day".

"Since Obama took charge he has not shown us that anything will 
change," he said.

On his second day in office, Obama ordered the closure of the prison, 
which has been heavily criticised by rights groups over reports of 
ill-treatment of detainees.

Obama also signed an order ending the harsh interrogation of 
prisoners - including the waterboarding technique that causes 
detainees to feel like they are drowning.

The prison camp was set up by the Bush administration in 2002 to hold 
prisoners it detained as part of its so-called war on terror.

Several hundred detainees have since been released but more than 240 
prisoners remain there, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is 
suspected of planning the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US.

'No change'

After being transferred to a different area of the prison for those 
awaiting release from Guantanamo Bay, al-Qurani was allowed to make 
phone calls and he called Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera cameraman who 
spent six years in Guantanamo before being released last year.

Al-Hajj said that while the US did have a new administration, "there 
has been no change in the administration of Guantanamo".

"The people managing the detainees there haven't changed yet. These 
are the same people who were there during the Bush years and so they 
use the same methods," al-Hajj said.

Describing a specific incident, which took place after change in the 
US administration, al-Qurani said he had refused to leave his cell 
because they were "not granting me my rights", such as being able to 
walk around, interact with other inmates and have "normal food".

A group of six soldiers wearing protective gear and helmets entered 
his cell, accompanied by one soldier carrying a camera and one with 
tear gas, he said.

"They had a thick rubber or plastic baton they beat me with. They 
emptied out about two canisters of tear gas on me," he told Al Jazeera.

"After I stopped talking, and tears were flowing from my eyes, I 
could hardly see or breathe.

"They then beat me again to the ground, one of them held my head and 
beat it against the ground. I started screaming to his senior 'see 
what he's doing, see what he's doing' [but] his senior started 
laughing and said 'he's doing his job'.

"He broke one of my front teeth. Of course they didn't film the 
blood, they filmed my back so it doesn't show."

Pentagon reaction

Al Jazeera provided detailed information of al-Qurani's mistreatment 
claim to the Pentagon and the US justice department but only received 
a reply from Navy Lt-Cmdr Brook DeWalt, a Guantanamo spokesman.

"I have no record of authenticity of this," he told Al Jazeera, 
referring to al-Qurani's accusations.

"It is an alleged phone transcript. ... We don't have any evidence 
supporting or substantiating any of these claims."

Ahmed Ghappour, a lawyer for Reprieve, a human rights group 
representing some of the Guantanamo Bay detainees, told Al Jazeera 
last month that conditions at the facility were deteriorating.

"There has been an increase in the number of reported incidents in 
Camp Five of Guantanamo Bay, that's one of the isolation camps," he said.

"I filed at least three sets of complaints since December 22 with the 
military and each one of those complaints called for an 
investigation, specified guards by number, specified incidents by 
dates and I've not heard back from a single one of these complaints 
that I've filed."

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