· Sami Al Hajj’s letter to his lawyer from Guantanamo

Caption of image reads: Hunger Strike was organized to protest inhumane conditions and the desecration of the Quran (Reuters Archive)

Al Jazeera.net (article not dated)

Letter dated August 9, 2005

Letter no. 11

To: Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith

Dear Clive,

These are some of my diaries about the hunger strike:

The hunger strike started on July 12th in camp 4 in Whisky Block specifically. Everyone joined the strike, the number of strikers is around 190.

The demands included, stopping the iron hand method which is especially used on prisoners in camp 5, providing health care, and the stop of the wide-spread practices of drugging prisoners and manipulating their mental state.

On July 15th an important group visited Camp Delta, we think they may be members of the American Congress. But for reasons only known to the authorities here, the group was not allowed to take a routine tour of camp 4 maybe because of the tension, but their tour did include the nearby hospital.

Prisoners were depressed and frustrated, they started shouting and talking loudly hoping that the visitors will hear them and would want to talk to them. Some were shouting “freedom”, others called Bush Hitler or that this is enslavement. In the meantime, some of the visitors tried to get closer to the Whiskey Block to be able to hear what prisoners are saying despite the warning from the guards. Some visitors seemed interested to understand what was going on, others looked at us in disgust.

Al Haj goes on to explain some of the violations the prisoners were protesting like torture, beating, banning them from praying, covering prisoners faces with blood, desecrating the holy Quran, long hours of interrogation while being sexually harassed. The prisoners had formed a small council which was supposed to represent the prisoners in the negotiations with the prison authorities, the council was allowed to meet though no secret discussions were allowed. This forced prisoners to communicate via paper notes after which they would swallow. The authorities were angered by that and cancelled further meetings, prisoners in camp 2 and 3 decided to take on hunger striking again.

Al Hajj says: that’s why I joined the strike again, I was not looking forward to that but we have to support each others especially those in camp 5. I am hoping I will survive this, please tell my wife and son that I love them.

Your client and friend,

Sami Mohyi Al Deen Al Hajj

Sami Al Hajj was Al Jazeera journalist who was arrested while heading to do his work in Afghanistan. He spent more than six years in Guantanamo.

· An American soldier reveals what he witnessed in Guantanamo

Image caption reads: Erik Saar said what he witnessed changed his view to his country

Mathew Davis — BBC Washington May 10, 2005

In an interview with the BBC, former US army sergeant Erik Saar, co-author of Inside the Wire : A Military Intelligence Soldier’s Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo, discusses what he witnessed during his six months service at the Guantanamo Prison. He stated that the abuse, including sexual methods, have established the precedents for the type of abuse we’re now witnessing in Iraq. He said what he saw at Guantanamo changed his view about the prison and his country.

Saar who worked as an Arabic translator at Guantanamo in 2002, considered that attempting to fix the mistakes committed at Guantanamo were not enough and that the prison still desecrates the values the US is fighting its war on terror for. He believed that some developments have been achieved in the conditions in the prison but a radical change remain necessary.

Saar concluded: “Guantanamo has become a symbol of everything wrong with America’s image. If we are trying to build a bridge to the Muslim world, what sort of face are we portraying”.

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