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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Guantanamo

Our CPT training group will take part in a demonstration calling for the closure of the Guantanamo prison this Friday, on the 11th anniversary of its opening. Our small group will be joining people from Illinois Amnesty International, Illinois Coalition Against Torture, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and a number of other groups.

Four years ago President Obama issued an executive order to close the Guantanamo prison and yet it remains open. 166 men remain in the prison; of those, 87 were cleared for release, and yet they are still imprisoned.  About 779 men have been held there over the 11 years since the prison opened.  Every man who has been held at Guantanamo is Muslim.  92% of all the men ever held in Guantanamo are not "Al-Qaeda fighters," according to the U.S. government's own records.  46 men are slated for indefinite detention without charge or trial.  The government claims the men can neither be released nor prosecuted.  The preceding fact come from the Center for Constitutional Rights. For more facts and figures about the Guantanamo and the imprisoned, click here.

I often asked my students to put themselves in the shoes of another person: an immigrant, a homeless person, a woman.  Today I am trying to imagine walking in the shoes of an imprisoned man at Guantanamo.

Maybe I'm Sulaiman Al Nahdi, a Yemeni man.  I've now been in the prison for 10 years and 8 months without ever being charged with any crime.  I'm being held even though my name was cleared years ago.  You who are not here with me only know that my name was cleared some time between 2004 and 2009 because that's the only information the U.S. government has given you about me.

The U.S. government never charged me with a crime. After being held in prison without charge, my name  was finally cleared and I am still in prison. When will I be able to walk freely again?  Where will they send me when they let me leave? Will they ever let me leave? Why am I still here?

Why am I still here?

Why am I still here?    

This is the question that races through my brain, that pulses in my heart, that circulates through my veins every day I remain in this place.  It is difficult to move past this question, to hold onto hope that I will  be free some day, to imagine that my life may some day look normal again.  It is difficult to know if the beating of my heart is the drumming of anger or the drumming of hope.

There are other men who have been here even longer than I have.

I heard that people in the U.S. value justice.  Where is the justice for me?  I have heard that people in the U.S. believe in human rights.  Where are my human rights?  I have heard that people in the U.S. value protecting the innocent.  Where is my protection?

Please, please, please  answer my questions.  Please, please, please if you believe in justice, in human rights, in protecting the innocent, please help me.  Please ask your government to release me.  Please ask your president to carry out his own executive order and close down this prison, and every other one like it.


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