Saturday, May 03, 2008

Prisoner 345 'Freed'

Sami al-Hajj has been released from the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

The US refuses to declare that they freed Al-hajj, instead they say he has been transferred into the Sudanese government's custody.

The Sudanese government deny that he was transferred to them and say he is a free man.

Al-Hajj, who had been on a hunger strike (and force fed) since January 7, 2007, has hit out at the US from his hospital bed in the Sudan.
"I'm very happy to be in Sudan, but I'm very sad because of the situation of our brothers who remain in Guantanamo. Conditions in Guantanamo are very, very bad and they get worse by the day.

Our human condition, our human dignity was violated, and the American administration went beyond all human values, all moral values, all religious values.

In Guantanamo ... rats are treated with more humanity. But we have people from more than 50 countries that are completely deprived of all rights and privileges.

And they will not give them the rights that they give animals."

There are 275 detainees being held in Guantanamo. This number does not reflect the detainees that are being held in the US's secret prisons.

Al-Hajj was held for six and a half years by the US. He was held without charge and was never afforded a civil trial.

A lawyer for 17 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, David Remes, told Al-Jazzera that Al-Hajj's captivity displays "an element of racism" and that his treatment "was more horrific than most."

Remes added that "(t)he Europeans would never receive this treatment." All detainees who hold European citizenship have been returned to their respective countries.

Guantanamo is a horrific story of inhumane brutality and it angers me to see how absent it is in the arrogant discourse that is American campaign politics (U.S. Congress. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is the exception among politicians in the Al-Hajj case).

Neither Obama or Clinton have taken stands on the future of Guantanamo. In the meantime the Bush administration is working hard to hide their complicity.

Al-Hajj was never prosecuted and the US has never made the charges it holds against him public. Lawyers who have read the charges said that the US has nothing to prove beyond the fact that Al-Hajj was a cameraman working for Al-Jazeera, with a legitimate visa, when he was captured by Pakistani forces in 2001.

Al-Hajj lost six and a half years of his life and Bush is thinking about his legacy. Those of us who care about human rights and the dignity to live freely everywhere must continue to call for Bush and company to be brought to book over Guantanamo and more.

Obama, Clinton, and McCain, should be judged on their lack of principled commitment to uncover the lies and violent deceit that has characterized the US's "war on terror".

It is too late for the US electorate to act like obedient consumers.

For more information see Prisoner 345: Campaign to Free Sami al-Hajj.

Also, see Clive Staffords Smith's book "Bad Men: Guantanamo Bay and Secret Prisons".


***Update(Tuesday May 6)***
Sami al-Hajj says that the US wanted him to spy for them. "They wanted me to betray the principles of my job and to turn me into a spy," he said.

A US official claims that Al-Hajj is faked his poor health on arrival in Sudan. The official labelled Al-Hajj a "manipulator and a propagandist".


Dione said...


There is a vast amount of things we are blissfully unaware of; that happen to people by the government such as in the case you mention.

Awhile back I saw the movie Rendition, and was actually impressed by it's admission of how we detain people who are from this country, or from abroad. Racial and religious profiling is applied and followed by torture and imprisonment. The prisons are located in the states, and some are located abroad in cooperation with their governments. I'm not a huge Reese Witherspoon fan, but I would encourage people to check this movie out. It was filmed in Washington DC and in Morocco, and is shockingly brutally honest about some of the horribly un humane things that are being done to people, especially individuals who are targeted because they are Middle Eastern or Muslim.

I am not surprised by Obama, or Clinton in there not taking a stand on the Al-Hajj issue. We can see, historically speaking that it does not work well for people to go against this part of the system. Probably another reason for McCaine to gain popularity, because there are many people who would see this case, as a Muslim terrorist being brought to justice, and then they don't care what the end results are going to be.

We all need to be deeply concerned about the future of the world, and what part that every nation, and ourselves as individuals play within this.


Ridwan said...

Dione thanks for your comment.

What really bothers me about the Al-Hajj case is the manner that the Western media has ignored this story.

CNN, BBC, Sky (Fox), ignored the story.

This raises a really important questions.

Foremost is the question about media coherence or solidarity.

Is Sami Al-Hajj too Black, too Muslim, too foreign, to be a concern for most Western media?

If not, what about his case made his story so uncompelling as to warrant the almost media-whiteout?

In my head there are two major reasons.

First is the usual supportive relationship that exists between the US media (CNN and others) and the US military complex.

The case against Al-Hajj was not viewed with suspicion because the Pentagon is influential in how such cases (news items) are reported.

In fact, the whole case for a war against Iraq (now Iran) was pressed by the US media without critical questioning.

Secondly, Sami Al-Hajj is a Sudanese Muslim in the post-9/11 era.

If he was a white reporter from a Western media outlet his story would have been front page news.

Now, his story would be so compelling that Neslte' hacks like George Clooney would be seeking film rights.

But Al-Hajj is made invisible not because his story is not true, rather he is made invisible because his story is not compelling to the racist mindset that mostly drives the Western media establishment.


Dione said...

I think his story is compelling, that is why it was covered up. Human rights activists would have been all over this case if it were known.
We would have seen uprise from the Islamic communities, and mention of this being a post 911 example would have been brought to the attention of the general public. This is what the government does not want. I agree that there are things that the American public does not have the right to know, regarding our safety, but I really doubt this is one of them. This particular case, is an interesting cover up.

Everyone needs to be aware of the fact that there are probably hundreds if not thousands of stories similar to this one, and we will never hear about them. Our system makes these people disappear. Sometimes we benefit from this, and many times we are left in the dark because as in this case it was really wrong.

These are interesting times, we know that there isn't truely freedom of speech, so enjoy your blog being uncensored for now :)


Professor Zero said...

Good post. Faked poor health, yeah right. Like Bush would last a day in G. without having a nervous breakdown (AT LEAST).

Ridwan said...

Dione thanks for your comment. The Al-Hajj case was not so absent that folks could have missed it.

I think too many folks are paying attention to these kinds of matters. Why would they?

The Clinton-Obama circus is a lot more entertaining.

**PZ thanks for your comment. I expect that Bush won't burn too long in hell.