[Ppnews] Gitmo Is Killing Me

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Apr 15 10:09:44 EDT 2013


  Gitmo Is Killing Me


            By SAMIR NAJI al HASAN MOQBEL


            Published: April 14, 2013

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/opinion/hunger-striking-at-guantanamo-bay.html?_r=1&

ONE man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I 
weighed 132, but that was a month ago.

I've been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 
pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.

I've been detained at Guantánamo 
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/guantanamobaynavalbasecuba/index.html?inline=nyt-geo> 
for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. 
I have never received a trial.

I could have been home years ago --- no one seriously thinks I am a 
threat --- but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a 
"guard" for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out 
of the American movies I used to watch. They don't even seem to believe 
it anymore. But they don't seem to care how long I sit here, either.

When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in 
Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a 
factory, and support my family. I'd never really traveled, and knew 
nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try.

I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had 
no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to 
Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to 
see someone from the Yemeni Embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and 
put on the first plane to Gitmo.

Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused 
to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of 
eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my 
hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I 
spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was 
not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was 
painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.

I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my 
nose. I can't describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it 
was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but 
I couldn't. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never 
experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment 
upon anyone.

I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my 
cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they 
will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., 
when I'm sleeping.

There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren't enough 
qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing 
is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the 
clock just to keep up.

During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into 
my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so 
hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was 
being done correctly or not.

It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse 
refused to stop feeding me. As they were finishing, some of the "food" 
spilled on my clothes. I asked them to change my clothes, but the guard 
refused to allow me to hold on to this last shred of my dignity.

When they come to force me into the chair, if I refuse to be tied up, 
they call the E.R.F. team. So I have a choice. Either I can exercise my 
right to protest my detention, and be beaten up, or I can submit to 
painful force-feeding.

The only reason I am still here is that President Obama refuses to send 
any detainees back to Yemen. This makes no sense. I am a human being, 
not a passport, and I deserve to be treated like one.

I do not want to die here, but until President Obama and Yemen's 
president do something, that is what I risk every day.

Where is my government? I will submit to any "security measures" they 
want in order to go home, even though they are totally unnecessary.

I will agree to whatever it takes in order to be free. I am now 35. All 
I want is to see my family again and to start a family of my own.

The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering 
deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are 
fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood.

And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment. Denying ourselves food 
and risking death every day is the choice we have made.

I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the 
world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.

Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel 
<http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/43-samir-naji-al-hasan-moqbel/documents/4>, 
a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay since 2002, told this story, through an 
Arabic interpreter, to his lawyers at the legal charity Reprieve in an 
unclassified telephone call.


            A version of this op-ed appeared in print on April 15, 2013,
            on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Gitmo
            Is Killing Me.

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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