A program (on al-Jazeera, Arabic) I try not to miss at all, is Sami Al-Haj's detailed ordeal in Guantanamo.
It is on every Tuesday. I missed part I but did manage to watch part II and III and I strongly urge anyone who understands Arabic, to watch it too.
The program consists of a series of live interviews with Sami and how his nightmarish odyssey into the underworld of American democracy begun.
Briefly, he was arrested and detained in Kabul, then moved and detained in Kandahar, then flown to Guantanamo. Prisoner 345, 7 years of his life gone in the dungeons of American democracy. He survived it to testify. It served a purpose, I guess. But at what price !?
Watching him speak, is like watching a holocaust survivor out of a concentration camp. Nay, worse than a holocaust survivor. This man was detained, humiliated, tortured, traumatized for life, changed for ever, by American Democracy.
This man was interrogated hundreds of times in Afghanistan's dungeons, and his American interrogators were convinced that he was INNOCENT. He had enough proof that he had no ties to Al-Qaeda. They assured him that he will be released. And they asked him :
- What will you say about us, if we release you ?
His reply was:
- I will say the Truth.
He was flown to Guantanamo one week later. Flown to Guantanamo via Turkey.
I cannot go through all of what Sami recounted about his days in American prisons in Afghanistan before being transported like cattle to Guantanamo. But I will relay the essentials.
When Sami was asked what is it that refuses to go away from his memory, his reply was "the physical torture, one can forget that once the physical pain goes, but the mental/psychological humiliation/torture -- that will never go away."
He spoke at length about the disgusting conditions in which he was detained, with 40 others. The extreme cold - he was allowed only one blanket. He was not allowed to go to the toilet except 3 times a day and for 2 mn only. So he stopped drinking and eating anything. The toilet was a hole in the ground and he had to do his needs in front of everyone, with two American female soldiers, watching on from the roof, and making snide remarks. Drinking water was very scarce. One bottle to be shared by 40 men. Washing and ablutions were not allowed. Brushing teeth was not allowed. While detained in Afghanistan, he did not take a shower for 4 months until he saw " lice crawling up his skin ".
Food was given in a plastic bag, and he had to eat out of it "like a dog..with hands cuffed." The Americans would frequently give them pork to eat.
He and other detainees were constantly taunted, insulted, beaten, punched, humiliated...
In Kandahar, the toilet consisted of a bucket they had to pass around amongst each other to do their needs. The detainee then had to carry the bucket out, while his legs and hands were tied. Many a time, he would trip and fall and be covered in excrement and was not allowed to wash.
The Americans would not let the detainees perform their prayers. And when they did allow it, they would barge in and put their boots on the prostrating heads. The detainees were given Korans and Bibles. The Koran was regularly thrown into the bucket of excrement by the American soldiers.
The Americans would also use the detainees for fun. They shaved Sami's hair off and left a sign of the cross on his skull. Sometimes they would shave one eyebrow and leave the other, sometimes half the mustache or the goatee. Then, they would sit and make fun of him and the others. He and others became entertainment for American Democracy.
Some of the interrogators were Arab sell outs, am sure you will find similar samples of these on blogosphere. The Americans used all kinds of sell out Arabs for interrogation purposes. Egyptians, North Africans, Iraqis and the rest...like they did in Abu Ghraib. I sure do hope you remember Abu Ghraib in Baghdad. I do and will never forget Abu Ghraib.
Sami, believing he will be released, since innocent, was flown to Guantanamo instead. A flight that took over 16 hours, where he was tied with a metal chain from the hands, around the waist, down to the legs.
That is why subsequent pictures of detainees in Gitmo show them bending while walking. He sat in that plane, on the floor of the plane, surrounded by two American soldiers, the soldiers of democracy.
Each one had his finger below his jaw, right where his jugular is. If he nodded off in sleep, the finger would poke him in the jugular, from either side. Or he would be hit on the head if his head fell down in a fleeting slumber of freedom.
The program stopped at part III. But the birth pangs of "democracy" continued for another 6 years, in Guantanamo. (to be continued...after I watch next Tuesday's episode.)
Another detainee in Gitmo, Binyam Mohamed had his genitals sliced by American Democracy, with the help of the British. (article here).
In sum, over 700 detainees from Gitmo, were found INNOCENT, in other words NO CHARGES. There are about 250 left. More innocent ones whose lives have been changed for ever by American Democracy. Who will take them back ? Some are Turkmens, some Yemenis, some Chinese. These men can't go back to their countries from fear of added torture. What will happen to them ? Who will give them asylum ?
Oh God, the number of wasted, ruined lives in the name of American Democracy.
And since am on the subject of the Art of Torture, American style, I have to, absolutely must, write about the torture that took place and still goes on in democratically occupied Iraq.
Democratically occupied Iraq, where arbitrary arrests are still frequent. Where people disappear in more dungeons. Where detainees for the most part Sunni Arabs are still no tried and are crammed in the most abject conditions. Where women are raped in detention centers. Where children are still prisoners. Where torture is the norm. Where trials don't exist.
Kamel, my relative, has been moved again. From American detention to Iraqi detention, back to American detention and now back to Iraqi detention. Omar, what happened to Omar, the other relative ? Where are they ? What are the charges ? Millions of Dinars have already been paid - paid to janitors, prison directors, judges, lawyers, police and the rest... No one wants to release Kamel and Omar. They are ARAB SUNNIS. As simple as that. They are the fruits of American Democracy.
I go back to Abu Ghraib and the slicing of genitals, the hacking off of genitals to be more precise. Mind you the Brits fared quite well in that area too, in the South.
I don't want you to forget this picture. This picture encapsulates everything you need to understand about Torture, Racism, Sadism, Envy, Hatred, Spite, Revenge, Vindictiveness...and the rest of the demoniacal throes that inhabit "humans". All crowned by Democracy. In the name of Democracy. All, against an innocent people, in their own country.
Do you realize where we are heading ? I think we are already there. This democracy leaves me dumbfounded and speechless.
Faithful, in the footsteps of their masters, the current Iraqi government, in Baghdad, in the South, in "Kurdistan" follows the exact same techniques inherited from the Americans who in turn inherited them from the Israelis. I need to remind you, that the Israelis were "consulting experts" for the Americans in the art of torture, in Iraq.
An art of torture backed by "prominent" American "intellectuals", who provided the ideological, cultural and psychological background/framework to refine the art and make it more effective. Bernard Lewis, Vali Nasr, Fouad Ajami, R.Patai, to name a few...(notice the names well and their religious/sect affiliations)
This was followed with number one best sellers, like this book by other experts who got to practice the art of torture as expounded by American "academics" and produced -- " How to break a terrorist."
Millions have been broken by American democracy for sure. The birth pangs of a new world order have not ceased to give birth to broken, deformed monsters...it has given birth to ghosts and roaming spirits claiming their abode in dungeons and graves. Can't you see that ?
Funny how you cannot see that. Funny how you can lie to yourselves, with sentences like "a few bad apples" "a little excess" and still claim you are a democracy.
Funny...Not so funny.
What happened to the sliced genital ? Where did you throw it ? Or where did you hide it ? I remember you hid brains of dead Iraqis as trophies and you kept them in jars, that was as far back as 1991.
So if the detainee in question is still alive and wants to recuperate his genitals, in which jar and in which bin should he go looking for it ? Did you transport it to Guantanamo too, with ears and eyes muffed and covered ? Did you chain it with metal ? Or did you put it in a plexi glass container and deposited it in the New York museum of contemporary Art ?
Questions I keep asking myself...as I ponder on democracy - your democracy.
Sculpture : Iraqi artist, Hashem Hanoon.