Guantánamo Public Memory Project

Download Transcript

Omar Deghayes

At GTMO: 2002 - 2007

Omar Deghayes describes the hardships of being an inmate at Guantánamo.

I experienced sadness in a state that I never had, cruelty at a depth that I had never seen in my life. But you do not leave a similar person anymore. You leave as broken, physically broken, psychologically broken wretches. You would not even dream of it, or feel it unless you are really subjected to it. I can tell you, just imagine yourself sleeping under lights, under glaring lights for six years. What will that do to you? You could imagine it but you would not really feel how breaking it is to the mind unless you live underneath that kind of system. When you have a home like that and then you have an AC which is in full blow of cold air coming out, you are living inside a fridge. You are locked up. I used to remember, you know I worked in Burger King when I was a student for foreign studies and stuff, I used to remember walking into Burger King’s fridge to get stuff out and it was like that. And they had system after system and it was continuous. You never had time for resting time for six years.

We were very young. We about ten, eleven, nine, eight, six, and so on. My mother was very frightened and she decided she must leave the country with all of us. Well, I enjoyed the freedom that we had. We did many things without being questioned.

I started studying law because I wanted to help others, because of the problems we faced as young boys without a father. Trying to do human rights and trying to stop wrongdoings happening to other families and other children.

I went to Saudi Arabia to do a Hajj – an Islamic pilgrimage with my mother. When I was there I wanted to see the law system and I went to courts in Makkah. It is the same thing, I did the same thing when I went to Afghanistan. I met a young lady and I married her. I enjoyed life in Afghanistan. Then September Eleventh happened. So I feared for the safety of my family so I had to move them out from Afghanistan to Pakistan and then from Pakistan tried to get them back to here, to England.

My house was surrounded by many, many, many police. People wearing black track suits, holding guns. They surrounded our villa, they jumped inside the house and you could imagine the screams and the cries of my wife.

They had elastics, goggles, that were really, really tight. You could see the blood, you could feel your head blowing up because of the blood was holding back between this area to this area [gestures to temples and sides of head] and you had no senses. Your nose was covered, your ears were covered. They were very uncomfortable. Your hands were like that [bound tightly] and sometimes they would drown you with water. This is the closest we came to water-boarding is they do water where you suffocate. They put lots of water until you scream. They spray you with something that makes you really burn everywhere. Your face and everything. And they would be laughing sometimes when they passed, and hit you with the electric gun if they wanted. Sometimes and they would laugh about that.

People were sodomized inside Guantanamo Bay. People… I know people that happened to them. Some of them with sticks of broomsticks, sometimes hands, things like that just to humiliate them, break people down.

We were never legally accused of anything. We were subjected to all sorts of barbarian treatment, humiliation, disgrace. We were released without charges, without anything, no apologies, nothing. That does not mean that I hold a grudge against every American, no. I want the people themselves, the humans in America, the good people which I met many of to realize how, in their names, those ugly people have done to others.

Creative: Picture Projects & Tronvig Group