On 11 January 2002, the first “war on terror” detainees were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, shackled, hooped and masked to ensure sensory deprivation.
Since then, reports of secret detentions, torture, unfair trials and suicides have hit the global headlines time and time again.
10 years on, the facts about Guantanamo Bay:
- According to the US authorities, 779 detainees have been held in Guantanamo, the vast majority without charge or criminal trial.
- All but one of the 779 detainees were foreign nationals. One detainee discovered to have US citizenship (as well as Saudi Arabian) was immediately transferred out of the base in 2002. After holding him in military custody in the USA for over two years, the government transferred him to Saudi Arabia under a deal in which among other things, the detainee renounced his US citizenship.
- 48 detainees could neither be released nor tried, but should be held in indefinite detention according to the Obama administration.
- Since 2002, eight detainees have died at the base, six by reported suicide, and two as a result of natural causes.
- At least 12 of those held at Guantanamo were under 18 years old when taken into custody.
- On April 24, 2011, the transparency organization Wikileaks began to release Detainee Assessment Briefs and other classified documents for all 779 Guantánamo prisoners. This revealed that military authorities have acknowledged that Mr. Abdul Samad, Mr. Ibrahim Umar al Umar, Mr. Khalil Rahman Hafez, and Mr. Abdullah R. Razzaq were all imprisoned at Guantánamo as children.
Report on torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (2006)
“YOU ARE IN A PLACE WHERE THERE IS NO LAW – WE ARE THE LAW” – US Military Intelligence officer
- Asif Iqbal reports that he was put in isolation for writing “have a nice day” on a polystyrene cup because it was deemed to be “malicious damage to US government property”
- Othman Abdulraheem Mohammad has lived under fluorescent lights twenty-four hours a day for the last three years
- Lakhdar Boumediene was deprived of sleep for 13 days during an intense interrogation period in early 2002
- Abdullah Majed Sayyah Hassan Al Noaimi was shackled for hours in a room that had been made frigid by an air conditioner
- The force used by the IRF is illustrated by an injury sustained by an American soldier who was ordered to act as a prisoner in a “training” exercise. Because the guards believed the were restraining an actual prisoner, not a US soldier, they used the force regularly used against prisoners, slamming the soldiers head into the floor and grinding his temple into the steel. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and now has epilepsy, with up to 12 seizures a day. The US military reports tat the video of this episode is “missing”
- The mass suicide attempted in the summer of 2003 was organized to protest abuse of the Qur’an after an interrogator had thrown a prisoner’s Qur’an on the floor, stepped on it, and kicked it across the room.
- The Geneva Convention gives the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) a mandate to visit prisoners of war and ensure that they are not mistreated.
- It is ICRC policy that its reports not to be made public, in exchange for full access to prisoners. However, a 2004 report by the ICRC on Guantanamo was leaked to the New York Times at the time of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.
- The report stated that interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo were “tantamount to torture”