Fayiz Al Kandari is one of two Kuwaitis still held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 2001, before the attacks of September 11, he said he left Kuwait to travel to Afghanistan to help with the reconstruction of two wells and to repair a mosque. His family said he made the trip because his mother had cancer at the time, and Al Kandari hoped his good deeds would bring blessings from Allah. He was 24-years-old at the time.
Following the 9/11 attacks on the United States, Al Kandari said he was imprisoned by the Northern Alliance who then probably sold him to US forces in Afghanistan. He was held in Kandahar and Bagram US military bases before he was sent to Guantanamo. He says he has been tortured at all three locations.
This is what Al Kandari had to say as he prepares to enter his 11th year in detention.
How do you pass the time in Guantanamo Bay?
Al Kandari: ”I pray, I read the Qur’an, I work out two hours every day, and I socialize with other prisoners. Because of the insignificant medical care in Guantanamo Bay, I cannot afford being ill. I am already plagued with serious medical conditions such as permanent damage in my cervical spine. Therefore, I regularly practice physical exercise to boost my immune system and to prevent the onset of any disease. The International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] has done a poor job in effectively helping the prisoners. For example, the ICRC provides each prisoner with a phone call to their parents once every six to eight weeks instead of once every four weeks.”
According to Al Kandari, his damaged spine is a result of abuse by prison guards known as the Immediate Reaction Force. In the past, a Department of Defense spokesperson has said that the DoD mandates that all prison operations meet high humane standards. Further laws, policies, procedures and training have been updated to ensure for the respect of the prisoners. Both Al Kandari and Al Odah have complained about the lack of proper medical attention they receive in Guantanamo. “The whole population is getting older and they receive only basic treatment for conditions they experienced when being mistreated,” Wingard said. Khaled Al Odah said his son has some health concerns. Fawzi Al Odah appears to have gastrointestinal problems and he is rather skinny. The younger Al Odah also now needs glasses, which he did not wear before.
What is your relationship like with the guards and other prisoners?
Al Kandari: ”I have a good rapport with all the guards based on mutual respect. Because I am fluent in English, it is very easy for me to interact with them. The other prisoners are my brothers in soul. We have a solid bond that unifies us. We pray together, we read the Qur’an together, and we have our meals together.”
Al Kandari and Al Odah are imprisoned in Camp 6, a communal prison where cooperative captives are held. They spent much of 2011 on a hunger strike and were held in Camp 5, a high security prison camp where inmates “deemed to be the highest threat to themselves, other detainees or guards” are held.
Are you innocent? Have you seen the evidence against you?
Al Kandari: ”I am unequivocally innocent. In the last ten years, I have yet to see any evidence against me. Ten years [I have been] in an animal cage without being charged and without standing any trial.”
What is it like watching almost everyone else be released?
Al Kandari:“I feel so happy for all the brothers who were released from Guantanamo Bay. It also gives me a great hope that my turn will be soon God willing. I am very optimistic that I will soon be released, God willing. My faith in God has never been so unshakable.”
If released, what is the first thing you would do?
Al Kandari: ”[I would] celebrate my return to Kuwait and then look for a young woman to marry. I look forward to the day of my homeland return where I will get reunited with my loved ones, especially my parents and siblings. I asked my [Kuwaiti] attorney Adel Abdel Hadi to file a lawsuit on my behalf against the Government of Kuwait. He did it last summer. I am planning to pursue this lawsuit until the end. It is a matter of principle. In my opinion, a government that cannot protect its citizens deserves no respect from any individual. The Government of Kuwait has done very little to assist in my case.”
The lawsuit filed by Abdel Hadi accuses the Kuwait government of conspiring with the United States to torture the prisoners and for wasting Kuwaiti funds that should have been used to secure the release of Al Kandari and other Kuwaiti prisoners.
What are your thoughts on the 2012 US Presidential election?
Al Kandari: ”I told Wingard on July 9, that I strongly believe President Barack Obama will be reelected in November. I turned out to be right. I think all Arab and Islamic countries were happy that President Obama was reelected.”
The Al Kandari and Al Odah families have said they feel extremely let down by President Obama because he has failed to close Guantanamo as he had earlier promised. Four years ago, the US government also asked Kuwait to build a rehabilitation center where the Kuwaiti prisoners repatriated from Guantanamo could be held. Kuwait built one, but it remains empty. If Al Kandari and al Odah were to be released from the US prison, they would be held in this rehabilitation where their families could visit them and where the could receive proper medical care.?
What do you think about Kuwait today?
Al Kandari: ”My brothers in Guantanamo Bay and I speak ill of the Government of Kuwait. We strongly feel it is lame by not protecting and upholding the rights of its citizens. In addition, the United States shows lack of respect to Kuwait officials, although there are thousands of US soldiers deployed in Kuwait. While the drivers of the political tension in Kuwait have much in common with the other Arab uprisings, particularly the impatient and mobilized youth, it is important to keep local conditions well in mind. Many Kuwaitis support the regime against the opposition, and there is a long history of public politics to fall back upon. Crucially, this is not currently a mobilization for the overthrow of the regime. Most protesters want to see a constitutional monarchy and political reforms, not revolution. But the lessons of other cases suggest that the Kuwaiti regime’s current course of action poses a real risk of radicalizing its opposition and setting in motion unpredictable popular forces.”
Al Kandari is aware of the political situation in Kuwait, because he and other inmates received screened and redacted newspapers that are usually a few days old, according to Wingard.
“Before it gets too late to de-escalate, the Kuwait Emir needs to offer meaningful political concessions, including standing down on its deeply controversial plans for a December election, relaxing its attempt to shut down public dissent, and allowing a greater parliamentary role in the selection of cabinet ministers.”
In January 2005 during a hearing, Al Kandari made it clear that we would not apologize for traveling to Afghanistan. He did not commit a crime or do anything wrong for which he should be remorseful, he said. “[I will not apologize] even if you said, ‘You will not leave Guantanamo until you apologize and you will beg us to release you.’ In truth, I tell you I would like to stay as a detainee with my respect and dignity and walk out of here with all my apologies and feel good about myself. Why should I apologize? What did I do wrong? What I did in Afghanistan was my duty. I believe this. I am very proud to have done what I went there to do. The scale of justice that you [the Americans] use, it does not reflect justice.”
A determined attempt by the Ministry of Defence to transfer insurgents to Afghan jails was blocked by the high court on Friday after it heard evidence that they would be handed over to a notorious torturer and alleged killer.
The court heard how the Foreign Office minister Lady Warsi – the former Conservative Party co-chair – had failed to question assurances by Asadullah Khalid, the head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), even though he was alleged to be widely known to have been personally involved intorture.
An urgent hearing was requested by lawyers acting for an Afghan prisoner tortured in breach of assurances made to British officials. James Eadie QC, for the MoD, told the hearing: “Both the secretary of state for defence [Philip Hammond] and the baroness [Warsi] were briefed on the allegations. But the fact of the matter is, he is head of the NDS.”
He added: “We have to deal with the NDS: it is to the NDS that insurgents are transferred. Therefore, it is obvious that whatever the truth of the allegations, the government engages with the body it engages with.” Khalid is reported to be a close aide to the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.
Lord Justice Moses intervened to say Warsi had done a deal with a man responsible for prisons where there were “still very live concerns”. Eadie accepted the point.
The court heard that a senior Canadian diplomat in Afghanistan had made public allegations that the head of the NDS “was known to personally torture people” in a “dungeon under his guest house”, “had people killed who got in his way” and was “running a narcotics operation”. Khalid has previously denied the allegations.
The court hearing – in a case of the kind likely to be heard in secret if the government’s justice and security bill is passed – was requested by the law firm Leigh Day and the legal charity Reprieve, acting for Serdar Mohammed, tortured by the Afghan security services after being transferred to their custody by UK forces.
Following Mohamed’s allegations, the government placed a moratorium in 2010 on all transfers of prisoners to the NDS.
The American military has been accused of abusing detainees at its main prison in Afghanistan Saturday.
The allegations by an Afghan investigative commission follows effort by President Hamid Karzai for prisoners to be turned back into their custody saying anyone held without evidence should be freed.
The demands put the United States and the Afghan governments on a collision course as negotiations continue for a Strategic Partnership Document with America that will determine the U.S. role in Afghanistan after 2014, when most foreign troops are due to withdraw.
By pushing the detainees issue now, Karzai may be seeking to bolster his hand in the negotiations.
At the center of the dispute are hundreds of suspected Taliban and al-Qaida operators captured by American forces.
RAMALLAH, (WAFA) – The Palestinian Prisoner Club (PPC) Saturday called on human rights organizations to investigate reports of Israeli soldiers physically abusing two Palestinians at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank, according to a press release.
It considered the soldiers’ “criminal act” as clear evidence of their “unethical behavior, reflecting their hatred and racism.”
An Israeli TV channel broadcast a video film that showed soldiers beating a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinians at what appeared to be an army checkpoint while another Palestinian was handcuffed, blindfolded, partially stripped, and left under the sun.
From Amnesty International:
Amnesty International Reveals Detainees in Libya Left to Suffocate in Blazing Hot, Cramped Metal Containers
Survivors Describe “A Day From Hell” as Detainees Drink Urine and Sweat to Try to Stay Alive
(New York) – Libyan forces loyal to Colonel al-Gaddafi forces left 19 detainees to die of suffocation while locked inside metal containers in the sweltering June heat in northwestern Libya, Amnesty International has discovered.
Three survivors described how al-Gaddafi loyalists tortured them and then imprisoned them along with 26 others in two cramped cargo containers on June 6 at a construction site in al-Khums, 75 miles east of Tripoli.
The detainees endured temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit and drank their own sweat and urine when the limited water supply ran out. Their captors shouted “rats, shut up,” ignoring their cries for help.
This is the first report of the June incident, because al-Khums was off-limits to independent reporting until it fell under the control of the National Transitional Council (NTC) on August 21
“This is obviously appalling and inhumane treatment of a group of people who were mostly civilians,” said Diana Eltahawy, North Africa researcher at Amnesty International, who is currently in Libya.
It is a war crime for any party to a conflict to kill or torture prisoners.
OTTAWA—Federal officials worried that the Conservatives’ rosy public pronouncements on Afghan detainees were starkly at odds with the grim reality in Kandahar jails that failed to meet basic international standards, documents reveal.
One memo to then foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon in November 2007 warned of the imminent release of detainee documents related to a federal-court case brought by Amnesty International.
“Cumulatively, the documents leave one with the impression of (a) flawed Afghan judicial system that fall (sic) well below UN standards,” reads the memo, written by an adviser with the Afghanistan Task Force. “In addition, the assembled material may seem to suggest that Government of Canada messaging on the detainee issues for the last 12 months has been out of sync with reporting from the field.”
The revelation was contained in a massive, 4,000-page release of government documents Wednesday related to the handling and transfer of battlefield prisoners into the hands of Afghan authorities.
TORONTO — Canada released declassified documents Wednesday that it said cleared military officials of charges that they ignored evidence that Taliban prisoners handed over to Afghanistan’s intelligence service were being tortured.
The main opposition party, however, questioned the findings, saying it had no faith in an ad-hoc committee of Parliament members who reviewed the documents and refused to take part in the process.
The release of some 4,000 previously classified documents comes about two years after a senior Canadian diplomat first alleged that government and military officials knew about the purported torture.
The issue sparked a debate in Parliament and prompted the creation of a special multiparty committee to examine documents related to the treatment of Afghan detainees.
“The allegations of improper conduct are unfounded and critics’ accusations of Canadian complicity with torture or even war crimes are simply not true,” Foreign Minister John Baird said.
After shocking images of detainee abuse at the US Military’s Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were published in April of 2004, political and military leaders condemned the abuse and promised swift action and accountability. As part of its response, the Army created an on-the-ground investigative team in Iraq, the Criminal Investigative Command’s Detainee Abuse Task Force.
But as a joint investigation by The Nation, The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute and PBS’s Need to Know discovered, the DATF has managed to accomplish surprisingly little in the way of holding private contractors and military personnel involved in abuse accountable. In “Inside the Detainee Abuse Task Force,” Joshua E.S. Phillips reveals that the Army’s attempt at accountability after Abu Ghraib has been a whitewash.
|An Iraqi detainee sits with his head covered by a sand bag while an American
soldier covers another detainee’s eyes with tape during a raid in Ramadi,
115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006.
With the release of documents by the U. S. Army to the American Civil Liberties Union and according to Paul Wolf Human Rights lawyer and frequent Press TV contributor, who has analyzed this information, the American military has detained several persons for a short period of time and then killed them before they were brought into a prison. This is in addition to abuse reports concerning Iraqi and Afghan prisoners held in Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca, and Bagram.
Such cases include the murders of Ahmed Hamid, Nahad Hamid, Zyad Hamid, and Jasim Komar-Abdullah in various locations around Samara, Tikrit and Baghdad by sixteen members of the 101st Airborne Division of the U. S. Army during Operation Iron Triangle conducted in May of 2006.
The detainees, two adult men and two boys, were taken captive, blindfolded, put in “flex cuffs,” and then executed. According to the released reports, one of the American soldiers, whose name was withheld, tore the blindfold off of one of the detainees and put his boot on the dead man’s head, as he posed for what the reports call a “hero photos.” The reports also refer to the soldiers, bringing a “throw down weapon” to try to portray these acts of premeditated murder as legitimate self defense.
According to U. S. military investigators, at the time of detention the victims were not positively identified as threats and they were not armed.
This incident bears a striking resemblance to recent news reports in Der Spiegel and Rolling Stone about another kill team apprehended last year, who also took hero photos of each other with the remains of dead Afghan civilians, and also planted “throw down weapons” to portray the civilians they killed as insurgents.
It could not be determined from the reports whether anyone was punished for the murders committed by the 101st Airborne Division in 2006.
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