By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Related Press
The Guantanamo detainees had been promised they had been being despatched to a Muslim nation for rehabilitation that will assist combine them into society, opening the best way to jobs, cash, and marriage, in line with their attorneys and households.
As an alternative, the detainees — 18 Yemenis and one Russian, swept up from Afghanistan and Pakistan after the Sept. 11 assaults — have languished in custody within the United Arab Emirates for so long as 5 years, their households and attorneys inform The Related Press.
In brief, sporadic telephone calls from undisclosed places within the UAE — together with a infamous jail rife with torture — a number of whispered to their households that as unhealthy as life in Guantanamo was, they need they may return there.
When one complained of “pressures” three years in the past, the decision was lower off; he has not been heard from since. When the Russian staged a starvation strike, he was dumped in solitary confinement and roughed up.
Now there are plans to ship them to Yemen, the place their households concern their therapy can be even worse.
A senior Yemeni authorities official confirmed the plans, pending safety preparations; a State Division official indicated the U.S. authorities was conscious that it was taking place. Each officers spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to talk to the press. The UAE did not reply to AP questions.
United Nations rights specialists described the boys’s upcoming repatriation as a “compelled return,” warning that it violates worldwide legal guidelines.
Their vacation spot is a poor Arab nation wracked by a grinding civil warfare for the previous six years. Torture and arbitrary detention are widespread in networks of secret and formal prisons run by varied factions controlling totally different components of the nation.
“Right here the respectable authorities itself isn’t protected. Who can be in command of them?” stated Hussien, a brother of Bir, one of many detainees.
The household of a second detainee, Salem, stated: “We concern they are going to be gunned down or rounded up as quickly as they put a foot in Yemen.”
And in the event that they survive, they might be prime recruits for terrorists in Yemen. Ibrahim al-Qosi, is a former Guantanamo detainee who was transferred to Sudan in 2012 earlier than surfacing as an al-Qaida group chief in Yemen two years later.
The lingering confinement of those males violates guarantees made by U.S. officers after they had been despatched to the UAE in 2015-17. It underscores flaws within the switch program and the failure of President Donald Trump’s administration to make sure their humane therapy.
President Barack Obama pressed to shut the Guantanamo facility amid opposition from Congress. The plan was to prosecute some detainees and to proceed to carry others with out costs whereas their instances had been evaluated by evaluate boards These not deemed harmful had been to be transferred to their homelands or third nations.
Trump had different plans. Earlier than taking workplace, he declared on Twitter that there can be “no additional releases from GITMO.” His administration dismantled a complete workplace tasked with closing the Guantanamo facility, overseeing transfers, and following up on the resettled detainees.
Phrases of the agreements the U.S. struck with the UAE and dozens of different nations that obtained Guantanamo detainees weren’t made public. However Ian Moss, a former chief of employees for the State Division’s Guantanamo envoy, insisted that, “We needed these people after they had been launched to have a recent begin in life. It wasn’t a part of the deal that they be incarcerated. That was by no means a part of the deal.”
Moss blamed the present administration for lack of engagement, saying that “the Emiratis knew that the Trump administration didn’t care about what they did with these folks or how they handled them. That is disgraceful.”
Lee Wolosky was the particular envoy for Guantanamo closure from 2015 to 2017, the interval when the Yemenis had been transferred to the UAE. “I can categorically deny that there was a plan to maintain the boys in detention following their switch from U.S. custody,” he stated in an e-mail.
Below Trump, just one prisoner, a Saudi, was transferred to Saudi Arabia to serve the rest of his sentence after he agreed to a plea cut price.
Below Obama, a complete of 197 had been transferred to different nations, whereas 500 had been transferred by George W. Bush. The U.S. base now has 40 detainees; most are being held with out costs and a 3rd are Yemenis.
Katie Taylor is deputy director of the United Kingdom-based group Reprieve and coordinator of the group’s Life After Guantanamo undertaking. She instructed the AP that after documenting the lives of almost 60 former detainees in 25 nations, “I’ve to say that the scenario dealing with the boys resettled within the UAE is among the many worst and most troubling.”
It’s not clear whether or not there at the moment are 17 or 18 detainees in UAE palms; unconfirmed stories recommend one Yemeni left jail due to medical problems.
One detainee is represented by lawyer Patricia Bronte. (His identify and the total names of all of the Yemeni detainees are being withheld for concern that they could face retribution.) She recalled that State Division officers had instructed her and the detainees that they’d be held from six to 12 months in a rehabilitation facility, after which they’d be allowed to reunite with their households within the UAE.
“From early on, the assurances I’ve been given weren’t lived as much as,” she stated.
She has had no contact along with her consumer since his arrival within the UAE in 2016. Households of the detainees say their communication with their family members has been rare, and troubling:
—Abdo, 41, instructed his brother that he spent 70 days in solitary confinement — blindfolded, handcuffed, and with palms and toes chained to the bottom — upon his arrival. There was no rehabilitation or “de-radicalization classes,” his brother Ahmed instructed the AP. Abdo and different detainees moved to a “filthy and darkish jail” for 16 months.
“It was simply horrible there,” the brother quoted Abdo as saying. He was later moved to al-Razin jail, positioned almost 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Dubai, the place human rights teams have documented abuses and torture.
Within the spring of 2019, Abdo was introduced again to the “filthy” jail, the place he stays.
The brother quoted Abdo as saying, “It’s not what I believed. I want I return to Guantanamo … it’s 1,000 instances worse right here.” Then the telephone name was lower off.
—Bir, a 41-year-old nurse, was recognized by Guantanamo’s Periodic Evaluation Board in 2015 as a “low-level Yemeni militant” who was arrested in Pakistani raids in Sept 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo.
His brother, Hussein, instructed the AP that regardless of earlier guarantees of a brand new life, his brother ended up in “mysterious situations. We all know nothing.”
“He continues to stay behind bars with different Yemeni detainees, they’re dealing with probably the most brutal injustice within the historical past,” Hussein stated. In telephone calls each 10 days, he stated, “He says nothing apart from, ‘How are you?’ He can’t converse. They’re banned.”
—Ravil Mingazov, a former ballet dancer and an ex-member of the navy, was the one Russian left in Guantanamo when he was despatched to the UAE. He was accused of preventing with the Taliban. A Pentagon profile additionally alleged he had hyperlinks to an Islamic group in Uzbekistan with ties to al-Qaida, and stated he was captured in Pakistan at a protected home related to Abu Zubaydah, a “facilitator” for the terrorist group.
He has by no means bodily met his 19-year-old son Yusuf, who lives in London. However they’ve talked: Yusuf stated his father complained that he had been humiliated by his captors and had been disadvantaged of meals and drugs.
Mingazov’s mom, Zoria Valiullina, stated her son needed to return to Guantanamo. “It’s higher there.”
—The household of Abdel-Rab, 44, stated he disappeared three years in the past after two telephone calls throughout which he complained about situations, and nervously stated, “I’m below strain … Guantanamo was significantly better. One billion instances.”
The decision was lower off; he by no means referred to as once more. His relations stated they haven’t any clue if he’s alive.
In line with data, Abdel-Rab had instructed interrogators that he labored as a home painter in Yemen earlier than he left for Afghanistan in 2000 to check and train Quran. He was captured in a crackdown on these suspected of hyperlinks to al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and landed in Guantanamo in 2002.
In June, a person pretending to be Abdel-Rab referred to as the household. “It wasn’t his voice. He wasn’t the identical,” stated his brother.
Hamidullah, one other detainee, lived to inform concerning the situations of his imprisonment within the UAE, although solely barely. He spent 3½ years in UAE prisons earlier than he was returned to Afghanistan in December.
Hamidullah’s personal counsel wrote that his consumer was a “mannequin detainee” a “peaceable man” who had by no means been a member of the Taliban, and “actually, he was imprisoned by the Taliban in late Nineteen Nineties.”
Surviving a decade in Guantanamo, photos in official paperwork confirmed a cheerful man with salt-and-pepper, curly hair.
He and the opposite Afghani detainees had been despatched to the UAE in 2015. His son Ahmed recalled in labored English the primary time he visited his father there, how he was “introduced with chains in palms and toes, coated eyes with black material, and was additionally tighten with chains within the seat.”
After his return to Afghanistan, Hamidullah shared extra particulars of his imprisonment. Guards compelled him to strip bare each time he went to the toilet. They might harshly clutch his shoulders and put his head down whereas main him out of the cell.
“It was psychological torture,” he stated.
Hamidullah died in Could, having loved simply 4 months of freedom after almost 20 years in detention. His household believes that the situations he endured in UAE prisons contributed to his dying.
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