Guantánamo Public Memory Project

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Bisher Al-Rawi

At GTMO: 2002 - 2007

Bisher Al-Rawi recalls being mistreated by his guards while he was detained at Guantánamo.

When I hear another prisoner screaming, screaming out of pain and he is right in front of me, right next to me, and he is screaming not because he has done anything wrong, no, he simply, he is in his cell. he s screaming because he is ill, he is screaming because the guard has just sprayed him with pepper spray and he is screaming for that and nobody cares, nobody gives a damn, nobody comes to help and he is screaming and screaming and next door you feel your heart is being torn. You cannot do anything. To say it is depressing, to say it is demoralizing, to say that one has lost hope is all true. Solitary confinement in Guantanamo, really is a place where people lose their minds.

Most of my memories now are in the UK. I left at 16. Before Guantanamo I had many interests. A lot involved sort of sports, exciting sort of sports, skydiving, sea diving, you know, all sorts of exciting sports. I cycle as well, so quite a lot of things I used to do.

Gambia is a country where they grow peanuts and my brother went to set up a mobile peanut factory whereby he actually goes to the farmers. At the airport myself and the guys who were with me were told that there was a small problem that needs to be resolved, just a small problem, just a small problem. And that small problem ended up, you know, years of my life in Guantanamo, and what happened then.

Coming from the Dark Prison, Bagram was a slightly better place. You can see people at least. You know, you see human beings, which is a big improvement from being held with just the insects and rats. It is dark, you cannot see anything, you are on the floor. You need to use the toilet, you cannot see, you do not know what to do. It is a very difficult circumstance.

For example, sleep deprivation, you can maybe keep control of yourself for one, two, maybe three days but after that, you are done. You are finished. That is how we were treated, thrown here and there carelessly. You do not know whether your head is going to hit the wall or floor or something. You do not know what is going to happen to you

In the first few years, two, three years of my capture, I always thought that soon enough they would realize I am innocent and I will be released. Soon enough that will happen, soon enough that will happen but that never did. I was never charged with any crime. No real accusations were put against me. I was held for four and a half years, interrogated hundreds of times and put on a flight and taken home. Really, it is ludicrous but that is how it was.

Really, one struggled after the release. You do not know where you are, you do not know the real world, how to function in the real world. Several months later in November I got married; I found the right lady for me and we got married. Now we have a 6 month old baby boy who we love dearly and i think life is starting to have a different feeling to it.

The people back in Guantanamo are always on my mind and the mind of almost everybody else and whether they have done something or they have not, all we have asked for is for them to be treated fairly, if there are criminal charges, for those charges to be heard in court. Really, if the US thinks somebody is a criminal, that is fine, take him to court and let him have his day in court. Either you release people or give them justice – true justice with no deception, no lies.Bisher Al-Rawi

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