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‘Trump says he’ll never let me go’: A Pakistani held at Guantanamo has been left to starve to death

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Ahmed Rabbani was arrested by Pakistani authorities in 2002 and handed over to the US Government under the claim that he was Hassan Ghul, a known Al-Qaeda operative.

The US Senate Select Committee that looked into the CIA’s torture and rendition programme has confirmed that his was a case of mistaken identity. In fact, Hassan Ghul was killed in 2012 by a CIA drone.

Rabbani has not been charged with any criminal offences and has never had the opportunity to prove his innocence in court. Here is his account:

I am a Pakistani citizen. My family is originally Rohingya, from Burma. I watch the genocide being committed against Muslims there with horror. Unfortunately, it is not only the Burmese government that persecutes Muslims.

As I am dictating this to my lawyer, I am being held forever in Guantanamo Bay, without charges or a trial, on the orders of President Donald Trump.

I was sold to the Americans 15 years ago, for a bounty, with the lie that I was some big-time terrorist named Hassan Ghul. In truth, I was a humble Karachi taxi driver.

I have endured the unendurable: I was taken to the Dark Prison in Kabul, and I was tortured for 545 days and nights in the CIA torture programme before I was taken to this awful prison.

I have seen nobody from my government for years. I hear nothing from the Pakistan government that gives me hope. I fear that my love of my country counts for nothing if my country will not stand up for me.

Guantanamo is all about lies, hypocrisy and broken promises. They promised me that they might let me out for a review of my detention, but that came to nothing.

Now 730 of the 780 brothers [imprisoned in Guantanamo] have gone home, nine have died here, but I remain. President Trump says he will never let me go, no matter what the facts are.

He is just posturing for the American people, as he postures on his Twitter account. It is one thing to marvel at his folly; but it is another to be on the receiving end of it.

There is little I can do here, except use the traditional power of peaceful protest. To begin with, I was very patient, expecting the American government to honour their promise of justice. But eventually it became clear they never would.

I began my hunger strike on May 9, 2013 which means that I have now been on strike for four years and four months. Under their rules, they are meant to force feed you when you have lost one-fifth of your body weight.

I began my strike as a slight man, 135 pounds, so they used the tube on me when I reached 108 pounds. That was long ago and it was illegal then as it is now – if I wish to protest my confinement, it is my right to do so, with human dignity.

But then the American general [Bantz J Craddock] said he wanted to make it less “convenient” for me to protest, so they used a big tube that was particularly painful, and they pulled all 110 centimetres [of the tube] out after each feeding, to make it hurt some more.

And yet, I persisted.

Now there is a new military criminal (the name of this person is kept secret by the US government) running the force feeding programme. The doctor is helpless, and she does what he tells her. They have stopped torturing me with the tube, and now they torture me with food, in the hope that they can break my resolve.

They are trying to force me either to eat their food and give up my protest, or to eat myself by starving me. Hunger is feeding on my bones, my flesh. But I will continue even if they bring the tube back.

My intention is to reach 80 pounds. I am not in a hurry – I am trying to lose two pounds a week until I get there. Now I am around 97 pounds, though I have not weighed myself properly for a few days.

They will not succeed. Maybe I will lose my sight, and go blind – but in here I have nothing to see.

I will get out of here one way or the other – either when I am freed from prison, or when I am freed from the bondage of this life, and I leave in a coffin.

This piece was dictated by Pakistani Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Rabbani (Internment Serial Number 1461) to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith OBE, of the charity Reprieve, on September 26th, 2017, and was cleared to be published.

–Courtesy “Scroll.in”

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