Friday, October 26, 2007

In His Own Words: Yassin Aref


Currently held in a US gulag. Some excerpts:

This summer when the temperature was above 90 degrees, it was like we were living in an oven because there was no air conditioning. I was happy winter was coming so we would be okay for a couple months, but when I spoke with those who were here last winter, they told me that when that happens you will wish it was summer again and accept the oven, even prefer hell over this place in winter. I asked why and they said because the whole entire roof leaks, and because when the snow comes we can’t go out to spend some time in those small cages or play handball or basketball. And in many cells you spend most of the day bailing the water out so it doesn’t fill up. I thought they were joking, but when it rained last week I saw myself that the roof started leaking. When I told them now I knew they weren’t joking, they laughed and said just wait till the snow comes! I was there when one inmate asked a CO who was supposed to fix the air conditioning, why he was not coming. He said they were waiting for the Government to send the money. Billions go to the war but they can’t fix the roof or air conditioning here!

Even worse, we are under a threat every day. When we complain about something or ask why they don’t move us somewhere else until they fix this building, they answer that there is no other place for us except the ADX. [The Administrative Maximum or Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, where inmates are subjected to sensory deprivation, kept in solitary and continuously deprived of all human contact, slowly driving them insane.] They say they can’t put us in any ordinary unit. So we constantly hear that if we don’t like it here we can always go to the ADX. Also, if we get in trouble and get a disciplinary ticket, there is always the threat that we will be transferred to the ADX. Currently there is someone waiting to be moved there, he has spent the last three weeks in the SHU [Solitary Housing Unit] waiting to be transferred. Yet they knew he did not have any serious disciplinary charges. People are not supposed to be placed in the ADX for such infractions!

[snip]

But all this pressure and oppression has failed to make us react in kind. Instead we daily remind and advise each other to be patient and tell each other not to answer their threats. That we should complain only to God and withhold our anger. We look and wait for the American people to wake up and look at what their Government is doing. We came here legally, mainly as refugees, in order to live free. We were respecting the law and looking at ourselves as guests here but we never thought that those who invited us and promised us freedom and help to build our future would target us to cover up their bad policies, and that there are no laws to protect us.

Locking us down in this old leaky building and prohibiting us from hugging our children and calling them often on the phone will never bring peace to this country, and will never make this nation safer. But it is really putting the justice system in this country on trial.

Is it true that all humans are equal?

Is it true that everyone is free to choose his faith?

Are human rights really protected by law?

We hear this but we would like to see it!!

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