Tag Archives: #GitmoHungerStrike

Morning Prayer: January 15, 2015

I don’t have much time to blog here, as I’m writing regularly on Catholic LGBT issues at Bondings 2.0, the blog of New Ways Ministry. However, I’m starting a ‘Morning Prayer’ series of excerpts, articles, stories, images, etc. which inspire prayer through my engagement with them. These will be the moments where I’m praying with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other as Karl Barth is rumored to have said. As these are spontaneous, the series will be occasional and act primarily as an archive. I may not comment at all, but where I do it will be limited. I share with the hope others may pray through these items with me and our world.

From The Guardian’s series of pieces on the Guantánamo Diary…may God have mercy on these victims of US torture and abuse, on those who tortured who are themselves victims of US militarism, and on our nation for all this to happen and continue.

Guantánamo Diary: ‘The torture squad was so well trained that they were performing almost perfect crimes’

I started to recite the Koran quietly, for prayer was forbidden. Once ________ said, “Why don’t you pray? Go ahead and pray!” I was like, How friendly! But as soon as I started to pray, ____ started to make fun of my religion, and so I settled for praying in my heart so I didn’t give ____ the opportunity to commit blasphemy. Making fun of somebody else’s religion is one of the most barbaric acts. President Bush described his holy war against the so-called terrorism as a war between the civilized and barbaric world. But his government committed more barbaric acts than the terrorists themselves. I can name tons of war crimes that Bush’s government is involved in.

This particular day was one of the roughest days in my inter- rogation before the day around the end of August that was my “Birthday Party” as _______ called it. _______ brought someone who was apparently a Marine; he wore a ________.

_______ offered me a metal chair. “I told you, I’m gonna bring some people to help me interrogate you,” _______ said, sitting inches away in front of me. The guest sat almost sticking on my knee. _______ started to ask me some questions I don’t remember.

“Yes or no?” the guest shouted, loud beyond belief, in a show to scare me, and maybe to impress _______, who knows? I found his method very childish and silly.

I looked at him, smiled, and said, “Neither!” The guest threw the chair from beneath me violently. I fell on the chains. Oh, it hurt.

“Stand up, motherfucker,” they both shouted, almost synchronous. Then a session of torture and humiliation started. They started to ask me the questions again after they made me stand up, but it was too late, because I told them a million times, “Whenever you start to torture me, I’m not gonna say a single word.” And that was always accurate; for the rest of the day, they exclusively talked.

_______ turned the air conditioner all the way down to bring me to freezing. This method had been practiced in the camp at least since August 2002. I had seen people who were exposed to the frozen room day after day; by then, the list was long. The consequences of the cold room are devastating, such as ______tism, but they show up only at a later age because it takes time until they work their way through the bones. The torture squad was so well trained that they were performing almost perfect crimes, avoiding leaving any obvious evidence. Nothing was left to chance. They hit in predefined places. They practiced horrible methods, the aftermath of which would only manifest later. The interrogators turned the A/C all the way down trying to reach 0°, but obviously air conditioners are not designed to kill, so in the well insulated room the A/C fought its way to 49°F, which, if you are interested in math like me, is 9.4°C—in other words, very, very cold, especially for some- body who had to stay in it more than twelve hours, had no underwear and just a very thin uniform, and who comes from a hot country. Somebody from Saudi Arabia cannot take as much cold as somebody from Sweden; and vice versa, when it comes to hot weather. Interrogators took these factors in con- sideration and used them effectively.

You may ask, Where were the interrogators after installing the detainee in the frozen room? Actually, it’s a good question. First, the interrogators didn’t stay in the room; they would just come for the humiliation, degradation, discouragement, or other factor of torture, and after that they left the room and went to the monitoring room next door. Second, interrogators were adequately dressed; for instance ______ was dressed like somebody entering a meat locker. In spite of that, they didn’t stay long with the detainee. Third, there’s a big psychological difference when you are exposed to a cold place for purpose of torture, and when you just go there for fun and a challenge. And lastly, the interrogators kept moving in the room, which meant blood circulation, which meant keeping themselves warm while the detainee was _________ the whole time to the floor, standing for the most part. All I could do was move my feet and rub my hands. But the Marine guy stopped me from rubbing my hands by ordering a special chain that shackled my hands on my opposite hips. When I get nervous I always start to rub my hands together and write on my body, and that drove my interrogators crazy.

“What are you writing?” ___________ shouted. “Either you tell me or you stop the fuck doing that.” But I couldn’t stop; it was unintentional. The Marine guy started to throw chairs around, hit me with his forehead, and describe me with all kinds of adjectives I didn’t deserve, for no reason.

“You joined the wrong team, boy. You fought for a lost cause,” he said, alongside a bunch of trash talk degrading my family, my religion, and myself, not to mention all kinds of threats against my family to pay for “my crimes,” which goes against any common sense.

I knew that he had no power, butI knew that he was speaking on behalf of the most powerful country in the world, and obviously enjoyed the full support of his government. However, I would rather save you, Dear Reader, from quoting his garbage. The guy was nuts. He asked me about things I have no clue about, and names I never heard.

“I have been in __________,” he said, “and do you know who was our host? The President! We had a good time in the palace.” The Marine guy asked questions and answered them himself.*Larry Siems: how the manuscript became a book

When the man failed to impress me with all the talk and humiliation, and with the threat to arrest my family since the ______________ was an obedient servant of the U.S., he started to hurt me more. He brought ice-cold water and soaked me all over my body, with my clothes still on me. It was so awful; I kept shaking like a Parkinson’s patient. Technically I wasn’t able to talk anymore. The guy was stupid: he was literally executing me but in a slow way. _______ gestured to him to stop pouring water on me. Another detainee had told me a “good” interrogator suggested he eat in order to reduce the pain, but I refused to eat anything; I couldn’t open my mouth anyway.

The guy was very hot when _______ stopped him because ____ was afraid of the paperwork that would result in case of my death. So he found another technique, namely he brought a CD player with a booster and started to play some rap music. I didn’t really mind the music because it made me forget my pain. Actually, the music was a blessing in disguise; I was trying to make sense of the words. All I understood was that the music was about love. Can you believe it? Love! All I had experienced lately was hatred, or the consequences thereof.

“Listen to that, Motherfucker!” said the guest, while closing the door violently behind him. “You’re gonna get the same shit day after day, and guess what? It’s getting worse. What you’re seeing is only the beginning,” said _______. I kept praying and ignoring what they were doing.

“Oh, ALLAH help me…..Oh Allah have mercy on me” ____ kept mimicking my prayers, “ALLAH, ALLAH…. There is no Allah. He let you down!” I smiled at how ignorant ____ was, talking about the Lord like that. But the Lord is very patient, and doesn’t need to rush to punishment, because there is no escaping him.

Redactions marked in the text were made by the US government when Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s diary was cleared for public release

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#CloseGitmo: 3 Actions We Can All Take

img_2465April 11 has been declared a National Day of Action for the closure of Guantanamo Bay military prisons and an end to the illegal, indefinite detention of the 166 prisoners there. Many of them are engaged in a hunger strike for more than 50 or 60 days, which I’ve written on previously. The question is, what actions have each of us taken to restore the rule of law, the liberation of the imprisoned, and the just ordering of society?

Witness Against Torture offers tremendous resources on how each of us can stand with the Guantanamo detainees, speaking as a voice for the voiceless. Options include tweeting using the hashtags #closegitmo and #GitmoHungerStrike, sharing articles and photos on all forms of social media, and advocating to our elected & military leaders. Will you join me in these three steps?

1) Make Calls

Call the White House comment line with your message at (202) 456-1111. Then, call the Department of Defense at (703) 571-3343. Finally, call US Southern Command at (305) 437-1213.

All three calls took me under 5 minutes, but we amplify one another’s voices in these comment lines. You can write your own script, or just use what I wrote up below:

“I’m calling to urge President Obama/Secretary Hagel/General Kelly to act in response to Guantanamo Bay detainees now engaged in a hunger strike. This reality should spur the Obama Administration and US military to action, as the costs morally, financially, and to US credibility abroad are too great to continue — never mind the deep toll asking young kids in our military to force feed innocent detainees will do. I ask that, in the face of the failure of our elected officials to close Guantanamo, our military will end participation in force feedings. I also request that President Obama/Secretary Hagel/General Kelly rapidly find a way to release the 86 detainees held now who are declared innocent and able to be released, while working to the just, secure, and peaceful closing of the military prisons overall.”

You can also (in addition I mean!) submit online comments to the White House and the Pentagon.

2) Write a Letter to Detainees

GitmoLetters1_BlurRegardless of guilt or innocence, the detainees are being denied their human rights and have been subjected to terrible inhumanity in many cases, either at Guantanamo or before arriving. Write a letter to those entering Day 65 of a hunger strike, acknowledging their dignity and making it known that you’re working for justice on the outside. You can find names, addresses, and more information here. Yesterday, I mailed 166 letters to Guantanamo Bay using a mail merge (and if you want to commit to all, or some chunk of detainees, I can send you the files). Here’s the text, based off of Witness Against Torture’s suggestions:

Salaam Alaykum,

After witnessing outside the White House in solidarity with the growing hunger strike by over 100 detainees at Guantánamo, I’m writing to express my continued prayers and support for those on strike and held captive.

My anger at your continued detention without charge or trial, denying you justice before the law and subjugating you and other detainees to sub-human conditions grows with my government’s persistent silence. As a Catholic, I decry how Islam is routinely denigrated within Guantánamo especially because this offense cries out straight to God in its inhumanity.

The resolve and persistence of hunger strikers inspires those of us working for justice from our government, and your suffering is a constant reminder of how degrading US policies in Guantánamo remain as indefinite detention goes on unimpeded.

I am only one of many US citizens joining you in solidarity fasts in recent weeks, as we prayerfully struggle for your liberation. Our fasts are symbolic relative to the hunger strikers, but we also make our voices heard to President Obama, the Defense Department, and our elected representatives that justice will be enacted.

You are not forgotten, and your united witness as detainees on hunger strike inspires me to press for justice.


Robert Shine

3) Participate in the Rolling Fast through May

Advocates of a just resolution at Guantanamo Bay will be joining the detainee hunger strike  symbolically to show our solidarity in the coming weeks. Witness Against Torture explains more here, and if you’ve done the two steps above you’re on your way to participating, so can you fast for 24 hours? 12 hours? A meal?

This matters. 3 simple acts, united with thousands of others could be world-changing, but even more importantly it could change the lives of men, unjustly detained, who we can call be name.


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