Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Great news

I received this email from Reprieve on Thursday:

Dear Rob

We are absolutely thrilled that our client, Mohammed el Gharani, is to be released from Guantánamo Bay following a federal court order obtained yesterday. Judge Leon ruled that Mohammed, who was just 14 years old when he was imprisoned in Guantánamo in 2002, is not and never has been an enemy combatant, and was wrongfully held at the notorious military prison.

Zachary Katznelson, Reprieve’s Legal Director, who spoke to Mohammed immediately after the hearing last night to tell him the good news, said that he was delighted, and very excited about going home to his family after such an ordeal.

Mohammed is the youngest remaining juvenile in Guantanamo Bay. He was just 14 years old when he was seized by the Pakistani authorities and sold to the US military for a bounty. As a Chad national living in Saudi Arabia, his opportunities for education were extremely limited, so Mohammed had left his home for Pakistan, hoping to learn English and train to work with computers. Seized in a random raid on a mosque, targeting Arabs and Africans in Pakistan in October 2001, he is one of 22 juveniles held in Guantánamo Bay since the prison opened in January 2002. He was accused of participating in an Al Qaida cell in London, however has never been to England and would have been 11 years old at the time in question.

Mohammed has endured terrible abuse, first in Pakistani custody, and for the last six and half years in US custody, first at the US prison at Kandahar airport and then at Guantánamo, where, he has explained, he has been hung from his wrists on 30 occasions. On one occasion a heavily armoured riot squad slammed his head into the floor of his cell, breaking one of his teeth, and on another occasion a cigarette was stubbed out on his arm by an interrogator. Mohammed has said that he received constant abuse from some guards at Guantánamo, much stemming from his vocal objection to being called a “nigger” by US military personnel. As a result of the violence against him he became deeply depressed, and tried to commit suicide on several occasions. We are all incredibly relieved that Mohammed’s seven-year ordeal is finally over.

Thank you so much, as ever, for your support of Reprieve, which makes fantastic achievements like this one possible. We are only able to continue this life-saving work with your help - please donate now: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/donate.htm

All the best,

Laura

Laura Stebbing
Resource Development Manager
Reprieve
PO Box 52742, London, EC4P 4WS
Tel: 020 7427 1087

Reprieve delivers justice and saves lives, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. To find out more or to make a donation visit: www.reprieve.org.uk

Another child rescued from an American torture cell is good news, but if Barack Obama stands by his promise to close Guantanamo down altogether that will be even better.

Incidentally, I liked the look of this campaign when I visited the Reprieve home page, as I urge you to do. I haven't signed up yet because it seems not to accept still photos and I haven't got a video camera handy. But I shall be flying the flag for amateur classical musicians on there as soon as I get organised, and I urge all the musical types among you, even if you're only fans rather than performers, to campaign against the obscene abuse of music as an instrument of torture. I rather think Beethoven and Bartok, to name just two, would have had something to say on the matter.

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