Justice Denied: Voices From Guantánamo
NEW YORK — Most Americans have only seen Guantánamo detainees as one-dimensional caricatures. But a new American Civil Liberties Union video shows the full range of their lives before, during and after their captivity. The video, “Justice Denied: Voices from Guantánamo,” is part of an ACLU initiative against the practice of detention without due process that violates fundamental principles of American justice. Despite plans to close Guantánamo, the Obama administration has continued this unconstitutional practice.
The five men featured in the video were all held at Guantánamo for years without any meaningful opportunity to challenge their detention. They were denied their due process rights, which might have established the lack of evidence against them much earlier and spared them years of torture, abuse and imprisonment. The men were eventually released, and as they explain in the video, are now attempting to put their lives back together.
“I experienced sadness in a state that I have never had, cruelty in a depth that I’d never seen in my life,” Omar Deghayes tells the camera. He had graduated from law school in England and was studying the legal system in Afghanistan when he was captured and sent to Guantánamo for nearly six years. “You will not leave a similar person anymore. You will leave as broken, physically broken, psychologically broken.”
Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul grew up together in England. They went to Pakistan for a friend’s wedding and took a short trip to neighboring Afghanistan where they were captured. It would be two and a half years before they could go home.
“Guantánamo Bay was hell for us,” Shafiq says. But Ruhal says their friendship helped them survive the brutal experience: “Anything that happened to me I could relate to somebody that was very close to me. Being friends from a young age – who else would you want in that kind of situation?”
Back home in England, Shafiq and Ruhal say the American leaders who allowed the injustices of Guantánamo should be held accountable. But they do not hold a grudge against the American people.
“The drinks we drink, Coca Cola – it’s American. We still drink it,” Ruhal says. “We still go to the movies. So we don’t hate Americans as American people.”
Omar says he feels the same way, but he wants Americans to know exactly what happened at Guantánamo: “I want the people themselves, the people in America, the good people – which I met many of – to realize what ugly things were done to others in their names.”
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