Sami al-Haj, the al-Jazeera journalist who was freed from Guantánamo yesterday, after six years and four months in US custody (including 16 months, from January 2007, on a harrowing hunger strike), continued to speak out about his treatment today, and was also reunited with his eight-year old son Mohammed, who was just a baby when he last saw his father, and with his wife Asma. The two had traveled from Qatar as soon as Sami’s release was confirmed.
After an emotional reunion with Mohammed, Sami summoned the strength to greet Sudan’s President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who visited him in his hospital room, accompanied by dozens of ministers, and then gave the world another message via Opheera McDoom of Reuters, explaining that the prisoners in Guantánamo had been subjected to “all kinds of torture,” but that what affected them most deeply was when the guards insulted Islam or desecrated the Holy Qu’ran.
”Security and human rights are inseparable issues — you cannot have one without the other,” he said, adding, “Human rights are not only for times of peace — you need to hold onto them always even during difficult times and times of war.” He concluded with some choice words for his former captors, which — in light of the well-documented abuse he suffered in US custody, and the agonies of his 480-day hunger strike — will no doubt reverberate around the world: ”My last message to the US administration is that torture will not stop terrorism — torture is terrorism.”
Sami and Mohammed (from al-Jazeera).
For a 15-minute al-Jazeera broadcast about Sami, featuring scenes of his arrival and his emotional reunion with his son Mohammed, see below:
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK), and in 2008 was the Communications Officer for the legal action charity Reprieve, which has represented Sami since 2005. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.
A composite article, based on this and my previous two articles on Sami’s release, was published on AlterNet.
Sami is not the only innocent person who has been tortured.
Thank you Andy Worthington for making and keeping us informed about the tragedy of Guantanamo, U.S. failure in humaneness, and the suffering and yet determined spirit of the human beings having to undergo so much abuse. Many Americans are ashamed of our country’s part in this and wish to send our apologies and heart felt love to those who have suffered so much in U.S. detention. I ask what the U.S. presidential candidates will do on day 1 to relieve these people’s suffering and our own self inflicted soul deterioration or cover up. We must heal these detainees and their conditions, our own selves who have been able to sit by while this abomination goes on, release those who are not real threats and give fair open trials and reviews to those detained. Thank you again Mr. Worthington for all your work and effort, for humanity.
[…] also mentions newly released Sami al-Hajj. Our friend Andy tells us about Sami (in a series of posts)… in short, al-Jazeera camerman Sami al-Hajj has been transferred to Sudan from GTMO after […]
The only way to understand the “war on terror” is as a reign of terror. The threat of being “disappeared” into some secret dungeon (“black site”) somewhere on the planet is one of the major means of terrorizing all Muslims. The threat of having your house bombed by American planes applies to those Muslims living in “war” zones.
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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