Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Kandahar Five

Of all the shameful and heartbreaking stories coming out of Guantanamo Bay, the worst has to be that our nation detained and tortured children. I found another story, however, that surely ranks in the top ten. From The Times (UK):

Exactly seven years ago this week in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, a 26-year-old Syrian Kurd who had spent the previous two years being tortured by the Taleban begged me to ask the newly arrived US troops in the city to help him.

The Americans did come — and sent Abdul Rahim Abdul Razzak al-Ginco to Guantánamo Bay. Today he is still imprisoned there. He claims that after being taken into US custody he was subjected to stress positions, sleep deprivation and threatened with dogs. He arrived in April 2002 and has never been charged.

Mr al-Ginco is on medication for severe mental health disorders. In court papers he has given his account of what had happened to him since we last met, an account of what the War on Terror has meant for him. Parts of it have been corroborated, others not. It is now before a judge in a civilian court in Washington.
[Emphasis added]

When the US and allied forces attacked Afghanistan and reached Kandahar, the Taleban fled, as did most of the prisoners. Mr. al-Ginco and four other men, who had nowhere to go, remained behind and waited for the American forces they assumed would be their liberators. Shockingly, rather than liberate these men, the US "detained" them, Mr. al-Ginco because a tape of a confession beaten out of him was found at the home of a Taleban leader. Apparently that was enough to place him in detention, even though the substance of that tape hardly qualified him as an enemy of the US. To stop the beatings, he confessed to the Taleban that he was a Mossad spy.

Imagine: imprisoned and tortured for two years by the Taleban, then tortured some more by the Americans, and then held without charge thousands of miles from home for another seven years.

How did we become such monsters? How did we sink to the level of the enemy we demonized as inhuman and inhumane and commit the very crimes we accused that enemy of? I do not understand. Can a nebulous fear of another attack really cause such behavior? If so, then terrorism is a success and we will never win that war. Evolution stops there.

Please take the time to urge President Obama and Congress to close Guantanamo and the black prisons where human beings are held under barbaric conditions and without charge. Urge them to unequivocally renounce torture and to forbid its use by all agencies of the government. It's past time.

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