'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, October 18, 2004

A Letter Home From Camp 

A British law student named Moazzam Begg wrote a letter that has become the first uncensored first-hand account by a Guantanamo Bay detainee released to the public during the detainee's incarceration. It is unclear how Begg managed to avoid the US's censors -- probably it was just a matter of luck and of sending hundreds of letters. Begg's lawyers gave the letter to the press a few weeks ago.

In his letter, Begg describes cruelties inflicted on him -- forced degradation before cameras -- that obviously resonate with the Abu Ghraib atrocities. Given that there is no way Moazzam Begg could have heard about the Abu Ghraib scandal, Moazzam Begg's letter supports the notion that what happened at Abu Ghraib was planned and ordered from above, not the work of a few bad apples.

Before arriving at Guantanamo Bay, Moazzam Begg was held at the Bagram Collection Point where he was tortured. While at Bagram, Begg claims to have witnessed -- or at least to have partially witnessed -- the murder of the two Taliban suspects I discussed in the previous post. Once again, given that Begg has been in solitary confinement for the past 600 days, there is no way he could have heard about the murders at Bagram through press reports.

Here is the complete text of Moazzam Begg's letter. Here it is as a PDF in his own handwriting. And here is an excerpt:

I state here, unequivocally and for the record, that any documents presented to me by US law enforcement agents were signed and initialled under duress, thus rendered legally contested in validity. During several interviews, particularly - though unexclusively - in Afghanistan, I was subjected to pernicious threats of torture, actual vindictive torture and death threats - amongst other coercively employed interrogation techniques. Neither was the presence of legal counsel ever produced or made available. The said interviews were conducted in an environment of generated fear, resonant with terrifying screams of fellow detainees facing similar methods. In this atmosphere of severe antipathy towards detainees was the compounded use of racially and religiously prejudiced taunts. This culminated, in my opinion, with the deaths of two fellow detainees, at the hands of US military personnel, to which I myself was partially witness. In spite of all the aforementioned cruel and unusual treatment meted out, I have maintained a compliant and amicable manner with my captors and a cooperative attitude. My behavioural record is impeccable, yet contrasts immensely to what I have experienced, as stated. I am a law-abiding citizen of the UK and attest vehemently to my innocence, before God and the law, of any crime - though none has ever been alleged. I have neither ever met Osama bin Laden, nor been a member of Al Qaida - or any synonymous paramilitary organisation. Neither have I engaged in hostile acts against the USA nor assisted such groups in the same - though the opportunity has availed itself many a time, and motive. Regardless of the outcome of all my appeals to sanity and protestations over the years, I reiterate my intention to seek justice at every possible level available to me. It is with that intent that I have prepared duplicates of this statement, for the information and use of the authorities and courts of justice.

Civil rights lawyer Gareth Peirce has the following to say about Begg's claim that he witnessed the murders at Bagram: (from here)

Moazzam Begg is the one British Guantanamo detainee who has not been seen by any of the others. This letter makes clear why. He is being held separately from the others because he has witnessed murder. He has evidence of unlawful killing by the US military, and that evidence is clearly being suppressed.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?