‘Eternal Prisoner’ testifies to 20 years of confinement at Guantanamo Bay: ‘Every aspect of my life is being interfered with’ | abroad

Twenty years ago, the first prisoners were held at Guantanamo Bay, the controversial prison located on a US military base in Cuba. Today, there are 39 inmates, including Khaled Qassem. in a opinion article In the British newspaper “The Guardian” he testifies about his life in a prison known for torture and human rights violations, and appeals to President Joe Biden to close the prison.

Khaled Qassem is a Yemeni national who was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay in 2002 on suspicion of terrorism and is considered an “eternal prisoner”. He was never charged with a crime and did not have the opportunity to prove his innocence at trial. The Afghan police had arrested him in 2000 and handed him over to US forces. It was later revealed that the US had given local law enforcement officials significant financial incentives to transfer Arab detainees for interrogation. In 2017, The Guardian actually published his story through his attorney.

In a new opinion piece in the Guardian, Kassem calls himself an “injustice expert”. He writes: “For people like me, justice is not something that matters to the United States.” In Guantanamo Bay, this injustice goes one step further, it seems. “Here we are not only tortured in interrogation rooms, but also in our daily life. (…) Every aspect of my existence is interfered with – my sleep, my food, my steps.”

According to Kassem, the imprisonment has made other countries not respect what the United States says about human rights. “By closing it down, America can begin to repair the damage done to its reputation,” he said.

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They control my body, but not my heart.

Since the opening of the prison, the system has become more livable in some places, says the prisoner who has been staying there since May 2002. For example, prisoners are no longer held in isolation, but in 2010 there was a “common block”. opened. But deliberate psychological torture remains the same. The rules change constantly and without notice. Some guards and some administration are more ruthless than others.”

Qasim writes: “The only freedom I have here is to protest. He’s been on a hunger strike for seven years. Seven years, I feel like I’m not dead but not alive. I believe in confronting my jailers. They control my country. My body, not my heart.”


Al-Yamani says he was able to learn more in prison despite the ban. He found peace in painting and is proud of his art. He managed to send some of his paintings for display in a museum in New York. “When they got there, I thought how the paintings would look on the elegant streets and grand buildings. Qasim remembers the people who would look for their beautiful city and could not imagine what our lives would be like.”

“But that relief was also taken away from me,” he says. He has since been banned from publishing the art, and the jailers are keen that he can no longer copy his work to show to his lawyers. “So it has become a heavy burden. When I paint now I feel a pain in my heart because I know that no one else will see the work I do.”

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Former President Barack Obama had made closing Guantanamo Bay one of his campaign highlights, but he failed to deliver on that promise. “We were optimistic and believed him,” Kassem recalls. He hopes the Biden administration will succeed. He should do everything in his power to close the prison.”

Despite everything, Qasim remains an optimistic person, he writes. “I don’t know where I will go, or what I will do. But there is life for me outside this prison.”

Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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