Friday, June 13, 2008

In his own words: Adel Hamad

From an article entitled Former Gitmo Prisoners: "You Should Struggle Against Any Government That Abuses Human Rights" (h/t After Downing Street):
Hamad's experience

Hamad said he was arrested by Pakistani forces and by a man he believes was an American.

The men said he would come with them for an hour or two, the Pakistani officers looked at his visa, asked the American if they should arrest him, and he said "yes."

"They told me not to move, put their weapons in my face and cuffed me," Hamad said.

They put a black hood over his head and took him to a jail, putting him in solitary confinement.

"I cannot even describe it. Very dirty. Hot -- it was summertime. The food was really bad," Hamad said.

They took his photo and fingerprints and the American interrogated him with a translator. Hamad said he was jailed there for six months and lost about 65 pounds.

Hamad said he was eventually taken with others to a prison in Bagram, Afghanistan. He said their hands and feet were tied and their hands covered with heavy gloves. They were tied to the airplane floor, he said.

When they arrived at the prison, "they hit us and kicked us and took off all our clothes and left us naked and then they gave us red clothing. They tied our eyes and deprived us of sleep for three days. We were standing up for three days," he said.

Hamad said he passed out, was taken to the hospital, and then to a room where he and other prisoners slept on the floor.

"I would hear the cries and screaming of other prisoners and we were like this for two months. Then they took us to Guantánamo," Hamad said.

He said their heads and beards were shaved along with some men's eyebrows. They were given new prison clothing and numbers. Hamad became No. 940.

Hamad said they were deprived of sleep and at dawn, their arms and legs were tied and they were made to wear heavy earphones, black goggles and heavy gloves. They were left sitting on the cold ground until night and given only a dry piece of bread and some water, he said.

Then the prisoners were tied together. Anyone who moved was kicked, he said. Hamad said they were taken on a plane trip that lasted many hours and he was given a pill that made him fall in and out of sleep.

Once they arrived at Guantánamo, Hamad said he was interrogated for three to four hours and then left in a very cold iron cage -- where he could not see or hear anything -- for about two weeks. Later, soldiers interrogated him about the organization for which he worked.

Hamad said he and fellow prisoners kept their spirits up by reading the Koran, supporting each other and organizing entertainment gatherings. Letters from family and unknown Americans also helped.

"Some would send me letters and this would make me patient," Hamad said.

Finally a guard came and told Hamad that we would be leaving soon. After a final interrogation and medical exam, he was sent back to Khartoum, Sudan.

"I was extremely happy," Hamad said. "At the same time, I was sad because I left many brothers behind who were like me. Now I spend my time on the issue of Guantánamo and working towards (helping) the ones left and their families."

Hamad said he was saddened that the United States "would raise beautiful slogans of democracy, equality, justice and freedom, but unfortunately those values no longer exist."

Hamad said some guards were humane, but most treated the prisoners badly. Yet, he said, "they are soldiers and they were just obeying what they were told."

He said, "You should struggle against any government that abuses human rights and we are with you hand in hand in this struggle.

We want a government in the United States that will be an example for the world. We want you to be happy. We want everyone to be happy and peaceful," Hamad said.
This post is part of an on-going series, The Human Face of Torture. Please also note that June is Torture Awareness Month. Also check out the website Project Hamad.

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