I Grew Up in Guantanamo: Now That You Have Heard My Story, You Cannot Turn Away

Fahd Ghazy has been illegally detained at Guantánamo since he was 17. He is now 30 years old. He has been cleared for release since 2007. He is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

 

 

by Fahd Ghazy, long-term uncharged prisoner at Guantanamo, December 9, 2014

To begin, please forgive me for not saying the right things or making the right points. There are different cultures between us and many different experiences.

It hurts me that I do not have the privilege to express myself. I want to have the honor to speak out in my own voice and reach you directly — you who are thinking people. I want to say thank you for caring. You are willing to view me as a human being and that is something so precious to me.

My exposure to the world came through Guantanamo. I was 17 when they sent me here. At that time, I had rarely seen a television or heard a radio. Every significant event in my life, from funerals, to my own wedding, to the birth of my beloved daughter, Hafsa, happened in the Diwan of my own home. Now I am almost 31.

That means I grew up in Guantanamo. I grew up in this system. I grew up in fear. I hope that helps you to understand me.

Continue reading

Hunger Striking at Guantanamo & the Abusive Use of Forced Feeding

By Thursday April 18, 2013

[Photo on Flickr by JTF-GTMO]

Guantánamo Bay prisoners have been on a hunger strike for over two months. Some of them have, in that period, been subject to forced feeding by medical staff in the prison. But, a new report that examines the United States government’s recent history of torture and abuse of detainees in the global war on terrorism highlights hunger strikes in the prison camps and recommends that forced feeding come to an end because it is abuse.

The report comes from a “Task Force on Detainee Treatment” formed by The Constitution Project, which describes itself as “a national watchdog group that advances bipartisan, consensus based solutions to some of most difficult constitutional challenges of our time.” The co-chair of the “Task Force” was Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who worked in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. James R. Jones, who helped President Bill Clinton pass the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), was the other co-chair.

The Task Force took two years to develop a report on “the past and current treatment of suspected terrorists detained by the US government” during the administrations of President Bill Clinton, President Bush and President Barack Obama.

During a press conference on the report on April 16, Dr. Gerald Thomson, a professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and former president of the American College of Physicians, stated, according to “Democracy Now!”:

We do not believe that force-feeding should be an approach to the hunger strike. If you can imagine being a detainee and using refusal to eat as a form of protest, and then you are forced to eat, forced physically to eat by being strapped into a specially made chair, and restrained—having restraints put on your limbs, your arms, your legs, your body, your head, so that you cannot move, having a tube inserted into your throat that extends into your stomach, and you’re trying to resist that with the only muscles that are free in your throat—pain, discomfort, obviously. But in addition to that, food is then forced, in a liquid form, into your stomach. You’re kept in the chair for at least two hours, usually more than two hours, to prevent you from vomiting and undermining the force-feeding. You can’t go to the bathroom during that time. Your dignity is taken away. The World Medical Association and international officials have clearly identified that process as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. And whatever the—given the level of brutality, it could extend to torture.

Hunger strikes have been taking place at Guantánamo since right after it opened. The report notes, “The first reported incidents of detainees being force-fed occurred in May 2002, after 60 or 70 days of hunger strikes.” A major hunger strike took place in the summer of 2005. By September, 131 prisoners were being denied food.

“In October 2005, prison officials told a delegation of visiting medical organizations that 25 prisoners were currently on a hunger strike, 22 of whom were being fed by nasogastric tube,” according to the Task Force’s report. Prisoners’ lawyers “filed motions asking federal courts to stop the involuntaryfeeding, which they claimed was carried out in a punitive, brutal fashion.” The prisoners alleged that “excessively large feeding tubes” were being inserted through prisoners’ noses and were causing “bleeding, vomiting and loss of consciousness in some cases.”