“I’ve been detained at Guantanamo for 11 years and three months,” Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel says in Sunday’s New York Times. “I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.”
Moqbel is locked up at Guantanamo because he is accused of being a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, something he vehemently denies as “nonsense” and says even “they don’t seem to believe” anymore. The 35-year-old from Yemen says he went to Afghanistan looking for work in 2000 after a childhood friend told him he could land a job there earning more than the $50 a week his factory position at home paid. He needed the money to support his family.
“I was wrong to trust him,” he says. “There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni Embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo.”
Moqbel later adds that the reason he’s still being held is because President Obama is refusing to send any of the detainees back to Yemen. “This makes no sense. I am a human being, not a passport, and I deserve to be treated like one.”
How he’s being treated is apparently quite appalling.
Like many of his fellow detainees, Moqbel has undertaken a hunger strike, which he discusses at length in his piece for the Times’ Opinion section. “I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.”
He goes on to describe an incident last month in which, after refusing to eat, a police squad in riot gear burst through his door, tied his hands and feet to his bed, and forcibly inserted an IV into his arm. For the next 26 hours, Moqbel writes, he was tied up like this, unable to get up to do even the most basic things like using the bathroom. He says they inserted a catheter, “which was painful, degrading and unnecessary.”
The detainee also depicts being force-fed through a feeding tube placed up his nose. “I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.”
Moqbel’s eye-opening, thought-provoking piece for the Times was dictated through an interpreter during an unclassified phone call to his lawyers.
Moqbel via The New York Times:
I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping.
... During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not.
It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me. As they were finishing, some of the “food” spilled on my clothes. I asked them to change my clothes, but the guard refused to allow me to hold on to this last shred of my dignity.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.
AP/Brennan Linsley, File