A Pakistani writes from inside Guantanamo

Published: December 11, 2014
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The writer is a Pakistani citizen currently held by the US military at Guantanamo Bay

The writer is a Pakistani citizen currently held by the US military at Guantanamo Bay

My crime was that I spoke Arabic. When the Americans were offering ransom money for handing over Arabs to them back in 2001, someone accused me of being one and my fate was sealed. I spent two years being tortured by the CIA in secret prisons in Afghanistan before I was flown to Guantanamo. Here, I have gone through 12 long years of imprisonment without charge or trial. That’s why I started my hunger strike.

For 12 years, I have been living a life of injustice, suffering through torture and insults. In those same 12 years, some of you who were students became doctors; others became generals, pilots, or perhaps, even ministers or the president of a country. But my life has stood still: I have even been prevented from improving myself in the simplest of ways, by studying. All I can do to protest my detention is to go on a peaceful hunger strike. For that, I am punished through force-feeding. Twice a day, a team of guards in riot gear barges into my cell to take me to be force-fed. They pin me to the floor and sit on my back causing extreme pain, before hauling me out of the cell to the force-feeding room. There, they strap my head, arms and legs to a chair and push a tube down my nose and throat into my stomach. Two hours later, they unstrap me and throw me back into to my cell — often pushing my face into the dirty hole, which passes for a toilet in my cell.

One day, in front of them, I began to vomit blood all over my clothes and the cell wall. The cruel team of guards broke into my cell, hauled me up and pressed down hard on my stomach. When I was pushed upright, I vomited the rest of the blood over the floor of the cell and the floor of the corridor in the block. They then took me to the force-feeding chair and carried on with their barbaric practices. I call it the torture chair. It allows them to strap my limbs tightly with cords in seven places. On that occasion, there was still bloody vomit all over me when they carried out their awful work. Another time, an inexperienced nurse who had not inserted the force-feeding tube too many times before, inserted the tube into my nose, pushing hard. I was choking, but she carried on pushing the tube until it came out of my mouth. She was clearly frightened when she saw the awful state I was in. I started to cry and began to convulse. Because of repeated forced feedings, my throat and stomach have become dreadfully inflamed.

The only reason they treat us so cruelly in this way is to put pressure on the hunger strikers so that they can end their strike. But striking is the only means we have left to send the world a message about our fate. I have not seen my family since my arrest, and when I occasionally speak to them on the phone, the guards start by reading out a list of things I am forbidden to discuss, which takes them 10 minutes to get through.

What else can I do? I have never held my own son in my arms, who was born after I was kidnapped. He will soon be a teenager. The dreadful experience of the last decade has shown me that I will never receive just treatment from the American government. Now, my only hope is that my own country will listen. A few months ago, I learnt that my grandmother had died without me being able to say goodbye to her. I have lost aunts, uncles, brothers and friends in the time I have been held here. After 12 years, the memories of those who remain — my children, my wife, my parents and close friends — are becoming fainter by the day. I refuse to let that happen, so I will keep asking anyone who holds justice dear to support me, so I can return to my family and friends.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (41)

  • Shahid
    Dec 11, 2014 - 1:31AM

    Sir,If you are innocent I have full sympathy with you. But otherwise you should be thankful if you were captured by fanatics/Alqaida you would have been slaughterd long tim a go.

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  • no name
    Dec 11, 2014 - 1:44AM

    O Allah help these people & suppress the tyrants & dont make them a fitna for the tyrantsRecommend

  • Tariq Nawaz
    Dec 11, 2014 - 2:45AM

    What a sad story…..

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  • MK
    Dec 11, 2014 - 3:21AM

    Thanks to Musharraf, who sold Pakistani citizens to US, without any due process. So many detainees have been released after no evidence or charge was brought against them. I hope you get united with your family very soon.

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  • Dec 11, 2014 - 4:09AM

    I am sorry you went through such a bad experience. MA be you should shave off your beard and look normal.

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  • unbelievable
    Dec 11, 2014 - 5:04AM

    So how’s a guy locked up in the most secure jail in the World get access to the internet to publish articles on Express Tribune? Also – last time I looked force feeding someone intent on suicide by starvation wasn’t considered torture.

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  • Rahul
    Dec 11, 2014 - 5:29AM

    I feel sad that you were mistreated in Guantanamo without having your day in court. Everybody deserves a fair trial before they are convicted though I doubt you were arrested only because somebody turned you in for speaking Arabic.

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  • ajeet
    Dec 11, 2014 - 5:42AM

    Hard to believe that this guy is innocent. But the treatment would have cured him.

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  • wb
    Dec 11, 2014 - 7:09AM

    You reap what you sow.

    You maybe an innocent. But you Pakistanis and other Muslims never spoke out against the persecution of people of other religions which has been incessantly happening for the last 1400 yeas.

    Even today, your heroes are Hafiz Saeed and Osama.

    So, why should anyone heed to your sufferings?Recommend

  • Salim Jan
    Dec 11, 2014 - 7:51AM

    Your story is very horrible and heart-rending.For 12 long years,no judicial processes and trial speak volumes about the Americans’ sense of Justice.They have greater respect for the rights of animals.Recommend

  • raw is war
    Dec 11, 2014 - 7:54AM

    dude, you speak like a oppressed person. why are you in that place first? Since you are from sub-continent, ever heard of Karma? FYI, you relatives will give one arm away to settle in USA.

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  • weirdity
    Dec 11, 2014 - 9:27AM

    “My crime was that I spoke Arabic”
    Right….

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  • AA
    Dec 11, 2014 - 9:40AM

    @wb:
    You need to enlighten yourself well before passing such cruel statements. Its truley said Americans dont have hearts…Oh they do but just for themselves.. But surely a day would come when you would realize your cruelties…How on earth could you pass such comments when you dont know a nation or religion….

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  • AB
    Dec 11, 2014 - 10:01AM

    @AA:
    Exactly what you said applies to you. How can you pass judgement on a nation (America) when you don’t know the nation because frankly if you did you wouldn’t say it.
    Americans have a better heart than most people and truly almost all ‘Muslim Countries’.
    The very fact that this report was made public shows the nation America is, acknowledging mistakes and taking the heat for it.
    Can you ever expect Pakistan to admit to killing Bangalis during the 1971 War? or Soviets killing millions or Chinese Communist repression? Will India admit to wrongdoings in Kashmir? No one ever admits to their mistakes. America did so knowing well people like you will find even more reason to incite hatred against it. That is an admirable and courageous act.
    Clearly shows who has heart.

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  • bahaha
    Dec 11, 2014 - 10:04AM

    @Shahid:
    May God make you as thankful as well

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  • Milind
    Dec 11, 2014 - 10:28AM

    “My crime was that I spoke Arabic”

    Well the shoe is on the other foot.. Where were you when your Arab countries routinely prosecute, torture & behead workers from 3rd world countries through sham trials?.. All of these are in Arabic and the subcontinental workers do no understand a word, don’t get a lawyer or a fair chance to defend themselves..

    Agreed what happened was sad. Hopefully, you will use this experience for canvassing some leniency, fairness in the unfair justice system in the Arab world…

    Still we’re not talking about the torture in the Arab world – and I understand the U.S. Govt. outsourced some of the terror suspects to the Arab nations (for torture and confession), to reduce its legal liability.

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  • Gurion
    Dec 11, 2014 - 11:18AM

    Sad story but any proof that it is true?

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  • Saad Ghous
    Dec 11, 2014 - 11:30AM

    I fail to understand how he has been able to send this one out through the world’s most secure prison facility. Express tribune should atleast make some effort and issue some clarification with regards to the same so that the readers are able to fathom the contents narrated therein more comfortably. Like seriously you want us to believe all what he’s saying just like that without any clarification from ET???

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  • vasan
    Dec 11, 2014 - 11:31AM

    Could u elaborate who turned you over to the Americans and for how much money. That would speak a lot about Pakistan and Ummah and you will find your cry would never be answered by Pakistan.

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  • Rizkhan
    Dec 11, 2014 - 1:43PM

    May Allah give you courage and bring you back home to family safe and sound. Allah is always there to help especially when no man wants to help.

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  • Rumormonger
    Dec 11, 2014 - 1:58PM

    Guantanamo, Poland Morocco…… Seriously the US govt thought it all out before picking up the people so that they will not have any rights by being present on a civilized country soil.

    19 comments, most of them doubting the guy with the beard. I wonder with what sort of inclination, this mans soon to be teenager son would have grown up.

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  • raider
    Dec 11, 2014 - 2:56PM

    i could not help tears to come in my eyes, it is disaster that super power america is so terrified from even innocent and unarmed peoples and look at the cowardice of those who handed over this man and so many others and even dr afia sadiqui to abusive forces.

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  • wb
    Dec 11, 2014 - 3:26PM

    @AA:

    And you Pakistanis have hearts?

    Don’t you know what happened in Sialkot? Don’t you know what happened in Kot Radha Kishan.

    By any standard, Americans are more humane than you barbarians.

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  • Rex Minor
    Dec 11, 2014 - 4:13PM

    You are a Pakistani citizen Sir, and you are being held by the most brutal Government of our times, who besides you hold the largest population of prisoners in the world, treats them as sub-humans, tortures them and denegrades them. Your own Gvernment has been collaborating with the American administration since 2001 and this makes it complicated since they obviously refuse to ask for your custody. The hope is that the UNO International crimial court is very likely to start criminal ivestigations against the American Government soon, since they now have the self admission from the USA administration of inhuman treatment of prisoners Please do not loose hope and trust in God the creator of the universe.

    Rex Minor

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  • Sexton Blake
    Dec 11, 2014 - 5:54PM

    Rex Minor and a few others wrote well written articulate articles. However, most of the others where quite scary. No wonder the world is in such a mess. I will not say too much about America except that it obviously has become a failed state on several levels, but particularly in the area of morals, which appear to be non-existent at the leadership level.

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  • M@NI
    Dec 11, 2014 - 5:59PM

    Sir, if you had been a canadian, britisher, you may have been release several years before, and the court would have given you millions of dollar…. but ALAS you are PAKISTANI, who are sold by MUSHARAF… One day you will come out IA, soon i hope, but don’t expect anything from PAKISTAN. The authorities here are dead meat, nothing else. They may give you back to Americans, for money!
    Very sad to hear from you, and you will be in my prayers forever!

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  • Rex Minor
    Dec 11, 2014 - 6:06PM

    @wb:

    You sir and your 24 comrades are not appearing on the Pakistan site to tell us that Hinduism, shintuism and communism are in any sence religions? You exist because today because of the golden period you had under the golden Moghul Raj followed by the anglosaxon colonial rule. Your future is not guaranteed and your Gods have died away thousands of years ago.

    Rex Minor

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  • x
    Dec 11, 2014 - 6:16PM

    @AB:
    I have lived in both america and pakistan.. as cliched as it sounds, good and bad people are found across both sides.. religious fundamentals and born again christians exist in america too. Similarly many good hearted, honest and humane people in pakistan. considering the level of education, incomes, opportunities available to american people and the illiteracy, poverty and hopelessness for many in pakistan (which would make many a decent people forget their humanity), I have to say that pakistanis defy all logic and equations. another thing i would like to add is that american sense of superiority makes it regard others as children of a lesser god and view them with a different lens and hold different standards to them (a charge they often attribute to muslims and their sense of superiority).

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  • durran
    Dec 11, 2014 - 7:49PM

    I see many people still giving their hate speech against muslims and many of them trolls… If you would imagine yourself in the situation where the writer is, maybe your hearts would tremble in fear but all is well unless I am going through it the national thinking of Pakis…
    But your hearts have been sealed and are black inside, praising other nations whereas you have done nothing for your own.
    You seek proof of innocence from the writer whereas you let go of killers of your own nation with full security protocol( Lahore Incident) that is the difference between you and the Americans you are a shameless nation whereas they protect each and everyone of their nation.

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  • AB
    Dec 11, 2014 - 11:08PM

    @x:
    I do not disagree with you. Good and bad people exist all of the world and Pakistan and America both are not different. Pakistanis survive under much tougher conditions that is correct too. But Pakistanis aren’t alone, Indians, Chinese, Latin Americans, Central Asians and Africans they all face similar circumstances so really Pakistan isn’t the only country facing troubles. Pakistan and America are two countries with very different values and dynamics so it is often troubling to understand each other by their people.
    American Exceptionalism is greatly misunderstood by most foreigners. It is not there to make others feel inferior, but to keep American on a morally high ground. Exceptionalism requires America to act better than the rest and undertake tasks others do not simply so Americans judge their own country by a different standard then the rest. The idea is it doesn’t matter what wrong others did, why did the US do it is the question. This is why Americans are more critical(constructive) of themselves then any other country as this incident shows.
    This idea is expressed through foreign aid to countries, being the most charitable nation as well as having organisations like the peace corp among other things. Hence American Exceptionalism is easily misunderstood by foreigners. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
    America is a beautiful country with amazing people. I can only wish average Pakistanis get to experience America and Americans too somehow and better understand it.

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  • umeed
    Dec 12, 2014 - 12:33AM

    uncle sam has successfully prepared generations of this man ” the America and American hatred”,

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  • observer
    Dec 12, 2014 - 2:02AM

    If this guy was so innocent, what was he doing in Afghanistan in the midst of terrorist Taliban and Alqaeda groups? Was he with these terrorists to sing them lullabies before bet time?

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  • Rex Major
    Dec 12, 2014 - 3:49AM

    @Rex Minor:
    You, are a Pushtoon who lives in Germany. One would expect you to have learnt about tolerance and democracy.
    In todays world you like to claim the superiority of one religion over the other, claiming obviously that what you follow tops them all.
    Are you really proud of the fact that your religion was propagated with the sword?
    You must be one of the folks against whom groups like PEGIDA are now demonstrating in Germany.

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  • Pushtun Voice
    Dec 12, 2014 - 8:35AM

    I am really sorry to read about your ordeal. Force feeding inmates is illegal and is a form of torture. Americans have a history of savagery and your treatment fits the historic norms of the “home of the free and land of the brave”. Read Black history and you will know how generations of black people were enslaved, their women raped and men savaged. Even now the powers to be, uses their police forces to kill Black Americans with impunity.
    I wish I could do more to help but at least I can make sure that your story is read by as many as possible. May Allah have mercy on you.
    .
    .
    .

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  • Sunil
    Dec 12, 2014 - 10:02AM

    There is a reason why Pakistan is the 8th most dangerous place on Earth and a connection to why Pakistani’s got locked up in Guantanamo. Not to mention that Bin Ladin was protected by pakistan. Stop playing victim.

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  • unbelievable!
    Dec 12, 2014 - 9:33PM

    @wb:
    Do you live in a hole? We protest alright! We condemn and hate terrorists more than you possibly could because they affect our lives a whole lot more than they affect yours. You lack empathy. That’s a disease.

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  • Rex Minor
    Dec 12, 2014 - 11:56PM

    @Rex Major:
    Is it asking too much to conform to the norms of social media.. You could never understand the relation of the Germanic people with the caucasian Pashtuns who live in Afghanistan and todays Pakistan.. No religon seeks superiority over other religion, the freedom of expression allows us to point out to the shortfalls in the cult of those which impact human lives especially women. Tolerance must not be misinterpretted as recognition and acceptance. The interest and the well being of the community must alwasy take preference and is part of all democracies. The dignity of the individual is non violable, is the first article of the German constitution..The Japanese violated it during 2nd world war and Geneva conventions were established, the yankees have gone on record violating it first in vietnam and now in the country as well as around the world.

    Rex Minor

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  • Ghalib
    Dec 13, 2014 - 1:06AM

    Bekhudi besabab nahin “Ghalib”

    kuchh to hai jis ki pardadaari hai

    so pakistani authorities who turned you over(if indeed that happened),did not know you was a Pakistani.If Just speaking Arabic was the criteria authorities in Pakistan were using,then you should complain to them.
    -not that torture did not happen in Guatenmo,as USA themselves admitted.

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  • taz
    Dec 13, 2014 - 2:00AM

    there are some sick people here.. @shahid well the fanatics atleast kill them and put them out of their misery, not torture for a decade, thats worst than death. but blind pseudo liberals will still blame him. look at the guy telling him to shave his beard. how narrow minded and judgemental can one be?

    these so called liberals are the same as these fanatics, both are opposite sides of the same coin.

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  • ahuman
    Dec 13, 2014 - 3:57AM

    Reading so many of these comments, all I can think is that we are a heartless nation of people with bitter, stone hearts.

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  • Rex Major
    Dec 13, 2014 - 9:43PM

    @Rex Minor:
    … You could never understand the relation of the Germanic people with the caucasian
    Pashtuns who live in Afghanistan and todays Pakistan.

    You mean the German’s have a special relation with Pashtuns because they are caucasians?
    Good for you if you believe in it and it makes you feel taller!

    … The dignity of the individual is non violable, is the first article of the German constitution.

    And you you think the dignity of a collective is open for grabs?
    Otherwise how do you explain the vitriol you spew against the Hindus and Indians? You
    surely consider them to be children of lesser Gods. (also see below)

    … No religon seeks superiority over other religion.

    Then how do you explain:

    … that Hinduism, shintuism and communism are in any sence religions? You exist because
    today because of the golden period you had under the golden Moghul Raj followed by the
    anglosaxon colonial rule. Your future is not guaranteed and your Gods have died away
    thousands of years ago.

    And a bit of history:

    The Moghuls who created the golden Moghul rule were central asians who battered the Afghans (Pashtuns). Babur wrenched Delhi from Ibrahim Lodhi (Pashtun) and established his rule over Kabul. In theory the Afghans hate the Moghuls, unless of course you have been brought up in a surrounding which twists history to suit it’s momentary requirement and are not able to break out of that mould.

    … You are a Pakistani citizen Sir, and you are being held by the most brutal Government of
    our times.
    And you Sir, who are so proud that your fore-fathers battered the neighbours do not realise
    that powerful nations have done it from time immemorial. Is it right – no of course not, but if
    you want to take pride in the acts of your fore-fathers, you are damned to swallow this bitter
    pill.
    After all what is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.

    You, the Pashtuns as a folk have been hammered from all sides for three decades, Russia, USA, Pakistan, KSA, Iran – everybody and his dog who could, did. Now you are dependent on help, support and alms from all over.
    Don’t you think a tad less hubris, a pinch of humility would carry the day far?
    Or, do you think the world owes you something?Recommend

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