“Guantánamo Was Created to Destroy People, to Destroy Muslims”: Ex-Prisoner Djamel Ameziane’s Powerful Statement to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

15.9.17

Djamel Ameziane, photographed after his release from Guantanamo by Debi Cornwall.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Three days ago, I published an article about former Guantánamo prisoner Djamel Ameziane, and specifically about a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in Mexico City, at which, via his lawyers, and via a statement he had written, he asked the Commission members: “Please issue a merits decision and decide my case. I ask you to order reparations and other relief so that I can get the assistance that I need and move forward with my life, and put Guantánamo behind me forever. I also want an apology. I ask the representatives of the US: Will you say on behalf of your government that you are sorry for what the US Government did to me?”

The IACHR is a key part of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mission is “to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere,” and whose resolutions are supposed to be binding on the US, which is a member state, although the US, of course, has little regard for anyone trying to tell it what to do.

As CCR described it, Ameziane also “urged OAS member states to remain involved in the issue given the current context in the US, and assist in the transfer of Guantánamo detainees and supporting efforts to close the detention center, among others.”

Below, I’m taking the opportunity to cross-post the whole of Djamel Ameziane’s statement, because it provides a powerful indictment of the manner in which the US, after 9/11, abandoned all adherence to the rule of law, setting up a global network of prisons — including at Guantánamo Bay, where Muslim men and boys, largely rounded up without any sense or any application of intelligence, were horribly abused and deprived of hope.

Ameziane, who had fled persecution in Algeria, had tried settling in Austria and Canada, but had been refused, and had only ended up in Afghanistan because he was at the end of his tether, and knew he could live there cheaply, and, as a Muslim, without being hassled. Soon after his arrival, however, 9/11 happened, and, although he “fled right away to Pakistan to escape the fighting in which I had no interest and took no part,” he was sold to Pakistani forces, and then to US forces, who began his abuse at Kandahar, and then continued it at Guantánamo.

If you don’t know much of the story of Guantánamo, Djamel Ameziane’s account will shock you, and even if you do, like I do, I’m sure there are elements of his story that will shock you — his explanation of how Camp 6, the last of the blocks to be built for the general prison population, where he was moved in April 2007, was terribly damaging for both his mental and his physical health. Modeled on a facility in Michigan, Camp 6 was generally portrayed as an improvement on Camp 5, where prisoners regarded as “difficult” were held in isolation, but Ameziane makes it clear that Camp 6 was no less isolating. As he writes, “[T]o understand Camp 6, you must envision what we called a tomb above the ground. A super-max type prison made of concrete and steel, with no windows and only single cells.” There, he stated, “my health and well-being took a turn for the worst.”

In addition, whilst acknowledging that conditions improved under President Obama, he is also highly critical of how, despite being approved for release at the end of Bush’s presidency, and again by the Guantánamo Review Task Force in Obama’s first year in office, he was not released until December 2013, when — spitefully, it seems — he was sent back to Algeria, despite the fact that other countries were prepared to offer him a new home.

Ameziane also reveals — which, again, was news to me — that despite having been approved for release, “the US government went to court to stop my lawyers at CCR from telling anyone I had been approved for transfer by either administration,” a prohibition that applied when Ameziane first sought the support of IACHR, leading to the ruling in his favor in 2012, which I covered at the time in an article entitled, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Calls for Release of Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian in Guantánamo.

Ameziane also explains, poignantly, how, despite support from the Mexican government, he did not feel able to visit Mexico in person to deliver his statement. As he stated, “The stress and anxiety from the uncertainty about whether I would be allowed to travel, or whether as a former detainee I might be detained or interrogated were too great.”

In conclusion, Ameziane’s description of his life in Algeria — without work, without money, without a home — not only are, appropriately, critical of his home government, but also of the US, which has not only shown complete contempt for him, but also, outrageously, kept the money he had when he was first seized in Pakistan, which he had earned in Canada.

I do hope the IACHR ends up delivering the sternest of rebukes to the US government for its disgraceful treatment of Djamel Ameziane, following up on the indication given at the hearing by the Commissioners, as reported by CCR, that they “would continue to study the issue and expressed consternation at Ameziane’s prolonged detention at the camp without any charges, indicating that reparations should be made, including, at a minimum, that his personal belongings be returned.”

That is, I have to say, the very least, that the US should be doing, to restore some semblance of dignity to Djamel Ameziane’s life.

Statement of Djamel Ameziane
before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Case No. 12.865, Ameziane v. United States
7 September 2017

Honorable Commissioners,

My name is Djamel Ameziane. I am a victim of the United States in its war on terror. For nearly 12 years, I was held by the US military at Guantánamo Bay, without charge, trial or fair process to challenge the legality of my detention. I was held without any legitimate basis, including for more than five years after I was first cleared for transfer. I was humiliated, tortured and abused, and discriminated against as a Muslim man each and every day that I was in US custody, from early January 2002, when Pakistani authorities turned me over to the US military and I was transferred to Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, until the time I was forcibly returned to Algeria in December 2013, despite my fears of persecution there. The United States treated me like an animal, or worse than an animal, because the Iguanas that roam freely at Guantánamo were protected by laws. I lived in a cage and was protected by no laws. I suffered abuse and mistreatment at the hands of the US Government, and I watched other detainees suffer the same fate. My family also suffered greatly. I have lasting physical and psychological injuries as a result of what I have endured.

Regrettably, because of those injuries, and in particular because of the depression and post-traumatic stress that I continue to suffer as a result of my detention at Guantánamo, I was not able to travel from Algeria to Mexico and testify before the Commission in person as I had hoped and planned. The stress and anxiety from the uncertainty about whether I would be allowed to travel, or whether as a former detainee I might be detained or interrogated were too great. I became depressed, and my mind started to sink into a dark place, so I decided that I could not make the journey. I am very sorry. But I would like to thank the Commission and the Government of Mexico for their efforts to arrange for me to attend the hearing in person. The Mexican Government issued me a visa at its embassy in Algiers, and the Mexican Ambassador to Algeria met with me personally and was very kind and encouraging of me.

What I wanted to tell the Commission in person, and what I want to explain now, are some of the horrors that I endured at Guantánamo, and what has happened since my release. These are only a few examples; it would take me days to explain it all.

As my lawyers have detailed for the Commission, and as the US also knows well, I was a refugee from Algeria. I fled the country in the early 1990s to avoid the civil war that devastated our country. I lived legally in Vienna for several years, handing out flyers by the Opera House and later working as a chef, but was not allowed to remain in Austria. My work visa was not renewed in 1995. I went from there to Canada, where I immediately applied for political asylum. I lived in Montreal legally for five years until my asylum application was rejected at the end of 2000. Fearing return to Algeria, I panicked and fled to Afghanistan, where as a single Muslim man I could live without papers, and without harassment, while I tried to figure out what to do next. I lived there for a few months until the tragedy of 9/11 happened and the US invaded, after which I fled right away to Pakistan to escape the fighting in which I had no interest and took no part.

After arriving in Pakistan, I was welcomed initially but quickly betrayed by villagers who were rounding up foreigners and selling them for bounties. I was turned over to the Pakistani forces, who in turn gave me to the US military, which flew me to Kandahar on a military cargo plane. I was chained, handcuffed, hooded and tied with other prisoners to the floor of the plane. When we arrived, it was total chaos and mayhem. We were beaten and brutalized by the soldiers. One thing I remember clearly were armed guards yelling, “Kill them! Kill them!” as we arrived. And I remember the soldiers had vicious, barking dogs that they would bring close to our heads, while we were chained face-down to the freezing cold ground, so close in fact that I could feel their breath on my face. The guards used the dogs to terrify us, and because they thought that we as Muslims especially did not like dogs. I was in shock, but looking back on it, that was probably the guards’ intention. Because right when I thought I could not take any more abuse and might lose my mind, I was brutally interrogated. I also encountered other prisoners who were hooded and beaten, and others who were deprived of sleep to the point of hallucination, all in an effort to get them to confess to various things that the interrogators said they had done. This went on continuously while I was held in Kandahar.

In February 2002, I was transferred to Guantánamo, and I thought my life was over completely. For the 15-hour flight, I was once again chained and bound with others, with opaque goggles, earmuffs and a mask over my nose and mouth. I was chained to a seat, forbidden from speaking, and it was living hell. I was not treated like a human being.

When I arrived at Guantánamo, I was placed in an outdoor cage in Camp X-Ray. My cell was like a dog kennel, and indeed it was unfit for a human being. The cell was two meters square and made of wire mesh, with a cement floor and a roof of sheet metal. At first we were not permitted to speak much at all, and we had no amenities. I was eventually given a thin mat and blanket, a bucket for water, and a bucket for human waste, as well as a few other small items. We were given food, but no time to eat it, and the guards constantly harassed us and yelled obscenities at us. They purposefully interrupted our prayers and systematically deprived us of sleep. They sprayed us with water when we slept. We were searched and harassed and demeaned constantly. At times I was also placed in solitary confinement in Camp 1, which was part of the Camp Delta complex that housed Camps 1, 2, 3 and eventually 4, all built after my arrival at Guantánamo. I was left alone for periods lasting up to one month in a cold, rusty metal cell. Everything at Guantánamo rusts quickly in the hot, salty sea air. I slept there on a very cold metal bed, but once again was often kept awake at night by guards making a racket outside my cell.

Thinking back on those early days at Guantánamo, I do not know how I did not go completely crazy. My experiences there were like a nightmare from which I could not awake. Thousands of miles from my home and my family, with no contact with the outside world, I did not even think my family would know where to look for me. They probably thought I was dead. Indeed, after I was released I learned from my brother in Canada that they did not know where I was or what had happened to me until a Canadian official told him a few years after my arrival that I was in Guantánamo. My brother could not believe it.

Again, there are so many instances in which I was abused and tormented and discriminated against that I might take me a week to explain them all.

After a few months in Camp X-Ray, I was moved around through different camps within Camp Delta, and the abuse continued as the prison filled up with more and more detainees from countries all around the world. All were Muslim. We even heard that there were children as young as maybe 10 years old held in another camp separate from ours, and elderly men as old as their 90s. I do not know what ever happened to them, or to most of the other prisoners I encountered there.

Eventually, the physical abuse that mostly characterized my early years in Guantánamo gave way to psychological abuse. Although the physical harassment and abuse continued, as did the religious discrimination, the psychological abuse was far worse. I would rather have continued to be beaten physically than locked away in isolation and forgotten, which is what happened to me.

In April 2007, I was moved to solitary confinement in Camp 6 for no apparent reason. Perhaps it was to punish me for meeting with my lawyers and litigating a habeas corpus case to challenge my detention. Maybe it was just to be sadistic. I do not know. But what I can say with certainty is that my health and well-being took a turn for the worst in Camp 6. For to understand Camp 6, you must envision what we called a tomb above the ground. A super-max type prison made of concrete and steel, with no windows and only single cells. There, I was kept in a windowless room in isolation, and because I could see nothing but white walls for almost 24 hours a day, nearly every day, my eyesight deteriorated. I asked repeatedly for an eye exam, but adequate medical treatment was denied to me for almost one year. I received an examination and was promised glasses for a long time, but did not receive glasses until months later, and only after my attorney found out and made a request on my behalf. Even then, the glasses I received were the wrong prescription, and I could not wear them without hurting my eyes further. Camp 6 was also kept deliberately cold 24 hours a day, and as a result I suffered from rheumatism in my legs and feet, which continues to this day. All the while, too, interrogators continued to harass and threaten me, including with forced transfer to Algeria, where they led me to believe I would be tortured and killed.

If you want to begin to understand what this feels like, to be locked in isolation in an entirely white cell without relief for months or years on end, I ask you please to consider this: go into your bathroom wherever you live, close and lock the door, and remain there for one year. You will be allowed to have exactly one censored book or magazine at a time, from a limited library. The only time you will leave is occasionally for a quick shower, where you will be mostly naked in front of your guards, to harass you and offend your religious beliefs, or maybe for an hour every day or two where you will be taken to another cell where you can see a small patch of sky and nothing else. This might happen at any time including the middle of the night, so you might not actually see the sky. Maybe or maybe not there will be another prisoner nearby, and maybe or maybe not the guards will allow you to speak with one another. The only other time you will leave your cell is to be interrogated and threatened, or to meet with your lawyer, which would immediately be followed by further interrogations about what you discussed with your lawyer. Indeed, the guards did whatever they could to discourage and prevent us from meeting with our lawyers. Sometimes they would say, for example, “You have a reservation today.” Reservation to us meant interrogation, so we would refuse, only to find out later that it was supposed to be a meeting with our lawyers. If you can start to imagine this sort of thing happening day in and day out, week after week, then you can start to understand how I suffered terribly and nearly lost my mind in that horrible place. You would be lucky if you do not lose your mind as some of the men did, and as I nearly did, staring at the walls of Camp 6.

When President Obama came into office in January 2009 was the only time when I had much hope, although it was soon to be dashed. Conditions improved in the camps when he came into office. We were moved out of isolation and allowed to interact in a more communal environment even in Camp 6. For the first time, we were allowed to pray and celebrate the Muslim holy days together without fear of retribution. We were comforted and sustained by our faith, and by each other, but we were reminded of our home and families with whom we had no contact except through occasional, censored letters sent through the ICRC, or through our lawyers.

Still, when Obama came into office, I had some hope, at least for a short time. When he came into office transfers out of Guantánamo continued and several detainees like me who feared persecution in their own countries were resettled in third countries, mostly in Europe. I thought I would be transferred too, perhaps to Austria, Canada or Luxembourg, each of which had expressed interest in resettling me. But it did not happen. On the contrary, the US authorities purposefully blocked my transfer to any country except Algeria, the place I had fled violence and instability almost a decade earlier, and the one place I feared most.

I want you to understand that I had been approved for transfer by 2008, when the Bush administration concluded there was no military reason to detain me. This was a huge relief when my lawyers told me, but it meant almost nothing as a practical matter. When Obama came into office, his task force also reviewed my case and approved me for transfer right away. When this happened, I lost the right to litigate my habeas case because the government said, and the judge agreed, there was nothing left to be done because I would get out soon. But that did not happen, of course, and I was held for several more years.

To make matters worse, the US government went to court to stop my lawyers at CCR from telling anyone I had been approved for transfer by either administration. My lawyers were prohibited from saying simply that “Djamel Ameziane has been approved for transfer from Guantánamo.” Indeed, after my lawyers filed the petition and request for precautionary measures at issue today before the Commission, in large measure in order to try to prevent my forced transfer to Algeria, my habeas lawyers at CCR were prevented from informing the Commission that I was approved for transfer. They could not even inform their co-counsel at CEJIL. In particular, when this matter was referred for friendly settlement discussions, which I was aware of and followed closely from Guantánamo through my lawyers, they were barred by the US from informing the Commission or CEJIL that I was approved for transfer. They were also prevented from informing OAS member states of my cleared status, including one country that expressed interest in resettling me but which I will not name here in order to honor its request for confidentiality. The bottom line is that the US cleared me for transfer, but did everything in its power to keep me in detention and keep secret from the outside world my cleared status. And I remind you that this was the Obama administration, which vowed to close the prison but failed to take the necessary steps to achieve that goal.

I remained in detention for several more years. By January 2011, transfers essentially stopped entirely. For the next two years, only about four or five men were released from the prison by Obama. During this time, too, ironically, the US authorities did not even make serious efforts to transfer me to Algeria. They did nothing, which was quite obvious to those of us who remained in detention, waiting for our turn to come. We saw and felt no progress. It was extremely depressing, our hopes risen only to be dashed again. It was this inaction, too, that caused the outbreak of a hunger strike at the prison in April 2013. The US military’s reaction to the strike was swift and barbaric. Rather than address the detainees’ concerns and try to alleviate their concerns, the military locked everyone back in single-cell isolation in Camp 6. Many men were also force-fed, and in one instance that I was aware of, the guards shot some detainees with rubber bullets at point-blank range for resisting. This only caused the hunger strike to spread to most of the other detainees. I, too, joined the strike in protest, and because at that point I had really lost all hope and wanted to die. I was finished. During the summer of 2013, I lost 60 lbs., my nose bled and my skin deteriorated into rashes and scabs. I was a wreck, emotionally, too. I could not even bear to meet with my lawyers in person. We communicated only by mail.

In the end, President Obama recommitted to closing the prison and transfers began again. The hunger strike subsided, but I and many other men never really recovered from that point onward. Indeed, the few months that followed are somewhat of a blur to me now. My lawyers went back to court to press my case because I still was not being transferred. But the reaction of the State Department was harsh: the president’s new Guantánamo Envoy began forcibly repatriating detainees to countries where they feared persecution, notwithstanding resettlement offers elsewhere. That is what happened to me.

In December 2013, I was forced back to Algeria. Although I feared persecution, which I had conveyed to the US authorities and the ICRC, as well as to this Commission, I did not kick and scream and cling to my cell door as some men did. I went to the plane to accept whatever further fate awaited me. I was broken, I was finished, I had nothing left. I was transferred from Guantánamo Bay on December 4, 2013 at about 3:00 am (Guantánamo time). I arrived at the airport in Algiers on the same day at 8:00 pm (Algerian time). It was a direct flight, on board of a military cargo plane, which lasted about twelve hours. I was transferred along with another Algerian prisoner, Belkacem Bensayeh. My feet were chained to the floor of the plane and my hands were shackled to my waist for the entire flight. I was blindfolded and was wearing noise-cancelling headphones as well. The procedure was essentially the same as when I was brought to Guantánamo. After arriving in Algiers, I was handed over to the Air Force Border Guards, who boarded the plane, cuffed my hands behind my back, and pulled my t-shirt up to cover my face. I was only wearing a t-shirt while on the plane, where the temperature was very cold. The temperature was also very cold when I arrived in Algeria. They brutally got me out of the plane and put me in a police car and drove me to the police station where I was subjected to a short interrogation. After they took my fingerprints and a mug shot, I was turned over to the secret police, the GDNS (General Directorate of the National Security), where I remained until December 10, 2013. I was subjected to several interrogations, which were conducted by various intelligence agencies. I was held in a large cell along with criminals and drug traffickers – Common Law criminals – in poor living conditions, especially as far as hygiene is concerned, which had a serious impact on my health. I became very ill as a result, and I believe because of that I was released.

On December 10, 2013, I was taken to a courthouse in Algiers where I met with the General Prosecutor, and I was then interrogated by the Investigative Judge. I was placed under judicial supervision and then released on probation. And I was ordered to report to the court once a month while waiting for the court to render its decision, which I did as directed.

At that time I was released and went to live with my brother. I was very ill and could not speak or get up from bed for a long time. My family was very worried for my health, and also worried that the secret police would come and take me away forever. I also did not have any identity documents. I had no right to work or ability to earn income. Indeed, the US kept some money that I had when I was captured and to this day has refused to return it to me. This is money that I earned while working in Canada, and money that I need in order to fulfill my most basic needs for food, clothes and shelter. Instead, I have had to borrow money in order to take the bus to report to the court and in order to live. I still have little spare clothing, and I have no home of my own. My brother has offered me temporary lodging in his small home where he lives with his six children, but I fear that I may become a burden to him. I do not have any money to rent an apartment and the officials from various government agencies have explicitly indicated to me that they will offer me neither financial nor housing assistance, nor will they offer me any kind of assistance whatsoever. I have also sought assistance from the ICRC and received again the same response, they cannot help me in this way.

To summarize, the US government has not only refused to compensate me for twelve years of imprisonment in Guantánamo, but it has seized the money I had earned through my hard work in Canada. Even the Algerian police officers who detained me when I first arrived to Algeria were outraged to learn such a thing. They said that it was so petty from a country to do such a thing when it claims to be the leader of human rights and plays the role of the world’s “vigilante police.”

Since then, I have continued to try to improve my situation but it has been very difficult because of my prior detention at Guantánamo. As I have explained, I have obtained documentation, but still have no permanent work, no money, and no place of my own to live. But for the generosity of my brother, I would be homeless today at 50 years old. Indeed, I fear that I am a burden to my family.

I have realized too the toll that my time in Guantánamo has taken on my family. While I was detained my dear father died. I learned of my father’s death when I was in the hell of Camp 6, locked in a windowless room for 24 hours a day. I urge you to think about that and how you would feel under those circumstances that I have already described. You would be crushed and devastated as I was, and you would hope to die as I once did in that awful place.

I also learned since from my brother in Canada that mother, who is now very elderly, tried to send clothes and other items to me in Guantánamo, to care for me. I never received them. My brothers knew I would not, but how could they stop my mother from trying, it is what mothers do, they said. My mother, and my other family members, are surely also victims of Guantánamo.

There was also a time when I wanted to have a family of my own but this too has been prevented both by my detention at Guantánamo and by the after-effects of my detention. I am unemployed, in ill-health, and in need medical care. I have no access to employment, as I have said. In Algeria, the rate of unemployment is very high, and with someone like me who has been out of the workforce for more than a decade and who carries stigma of Guantánamo, it is impossible. Also as I have said, I struggled for a long time to get my identity papers signed up for public assistance and housing but have not received it, and tried to find work consistently but unsuccessfully. I have had some temporary jobs filling in for others when they take vacation, and done some English-French translation work for my lawyers and some others, but that is it.

In Spring 2016, I was also put on trial in Algeria. I was notified a few days ahead of the trial that I would face criminal charges alleging my membership in a terrorist group outside of Algeria. I was very surprised and terrified, and contacted my lawyers at CCR. I was certain a guilty plea would be manufactured to ensure I remained in prison forever even though I was innocent. But thankfully, and to my surprise, the trial lasted fifteen minutes and I was acquitted. Not only that, but I was fully exonerated of any wrongdoing and released without conditions. This is how I was ultimately able to obtain a passport. I am now free and clear as far as the Algerians are concerned. I am very thankful for this, particularly as I had feared persecution for so many years. It is a weight that has been lifted from me.

But it is still very difficult, and painful, to think about everything that happened to me at Guantánamo, to learn how my family suffered, and to move forward with my life. I am 50 years old, and I lost many prime years of my life to Guantánamo. It was all for no good reason, and at great, great cost. There have been so many terrible events that it is hard, especially now, to remember every injustice. Thinking about it overwhelms me and I get numb. My mind sometimes goes blank. I know from my experience that Guantánamo was created to destroy people, to destroy Muslims, who are the only people to have been held there, and it has nearly destroyed me. I want to be free of it forever, to forget and move on with my remaining years.

Members of the Commission, what I respectfully ask of you today is: please issue a merits decision and decide my case. I ask you to order reparations and other relief so that I can get the assistance that I need and move forward with my life, and put Guantánamo behind me forever.

I also want an apology. I ask the representatives of the US: will you say on behalf of your government that you are sorry for what the US Government did to me?

To the Commission I also have one final request. I ask you please to stay involved on the issue of Guantánamo and make sure your voice is heard by the US and the international community. Please help the men who remain at Guantánamo, including my countryman Sufyian Barhoumi [approved for release by a Periodic Review Board in August 2016, but still held]. I have seen his family, his mother and his brothers since my release, and they are devastated by his continuing detention, as my family was for many years. Please, remain involved on these issues, and urge OAS member states to accept detainees for resettlement. To do what El Salvador and Uruguay have done by taking men from Guantánamo. Help to close this horrible prison.

Thank you.

Djamel Ameziane
September 2, 2017

Note: The photo at the top of this article is by Debi Cornwall, whose photography book, Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantánamo Bay, is published this month.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

6 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, a cross-post, with my own commentary, of a powerful statement made by former Guantanamo prisoner Djamel Ameziane to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in which he is seeking a merits ruling, and is urging the US to apologize to him. The statement details his abuse in Kandahar and Guantanamo, and reveals how, since being forcibly repatriated to Algeria five years after he was approved for release, instead of being sent to another country, as he sought, he has no job, no home and no money. He also reveals how the US refused to give him back the money he had on him when he was first seized, which he had earned while working in Canada. He also explains how, despite support from Mexico, where the hearing took place, he was, understandably, too scared to make the journey. I promised to post this statement three days ago, after I published an article about Ameziane’s hearing, and I’m very glad to be making it available.

  2. Tom says...

    thanks for posting this. It’s not an excuse. But to Trump and many other powerful people in DC, this is an example of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. There’s no way in hell we’ll ever let any of THESE “terrorists” onto U.S. soil. Congresspeople on both sides say, you want me to support releasing all of these prisoners? What’s in it for me. Their personal survival always comes first. Then again I know. Nobody said this would be easy. Carry on.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Hey, Tom. Thanks. Good to hear from you.
    One of the things that’s always struck me on visits to the US is how no one is allowed to meet a former prisoner. Only those who travel to other countries like the UK can do that. And doing so, of course, has a swift tendency to puncture all the idiotic rhetoric about the “worst of the worst.”
    One of the most depressing aspects of Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo was how he walked back from a planed deal to bring some Uighur prisoners to live in Virginia. Had he done so, that terrorist bubble would have been quite seriously punctured. But because it didn’t happen, the myth can still be maintained that everyone at Guantanamo is some kind of superhuman terrorist threat.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Anna Gauzy-Ackroyd wrote:

    Thank you for writing this. I can’t believe the horrors inflicted on this innocent man, Djamel Ameziane. Or that such a place of brutality and lawlessness remains open. It must not be forgotten. That’s why this article is so important. And the statement made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Anything that keeps the spot light on this place so that it continues to be condemned internationally as intolerable..

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for caring, Anna. Sadly, far too many don’t, and in the blizzard of things that are wrong under the Trump administration, it’s extremely difficult to work out how to put the focus back on Guantanamo – but I’ll keep trying. It’s too important not to, as w enow mark nearly 16 years of the US running a prison where the normal rules don’t apply, and where, to all intents and purposes, those held are political prisoners.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s also Day 5 of my quarterly fundraiser, in which I’m still trying to raise $1800 (£1450) to support my work on Guantanamo and related issues for the next three months. This was what I wrote yesterday about why I’m a reader-funded journalist and activist: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2017/09/14/quarterly-fundraiser-day-4-why-i-need-your-money-20001600-to-keep-me-working-as-a-reader-funded-guantanamo-journalist/

Leave a Reply

Back to the top

Back to home page

Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
Email Andy Worthington

CD: Love and War

Love and War by The Four Fathers

The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

The Battle of the Beanfield book cover

The Battle of the Beanfield

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion book cover

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

Outside The Law DVD cover

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

RSS

Posts & Comments

World Wide Web Consortium

XHTML & CSS

WordPress

Powered by WordPress

Designed by Josh King-Farlow

Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist:

Archives

In Touch

Follow me on Facebook

Become a fan on Facebook

Subscribe to me on YouTubeSubscribe to me on YouTube

Andy's Flickr photos

Campaigns

Categories

Tag Cloud

Afghans in Guantanamo Al-Qaeda Andy Worthington British prisoners CIA torture prisons Clive Stafford Smith Close Guantanamo David Cameron Donald Trump Four Fathers Guantanamo Hunger strikes London Military Commission NHS NHS privatisation Periodic Review Boards Photos President Obama Reprieve Shaker Aamer Torture UK austerity UK protest US Congress US courts Video We Stand With Shaker WikiLeaks Yemenis in Guantanamo