Guantanamo Abuse Row Deepens
14-16 Apr 09 | AJE
A detainee at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay is claiming that tear gas was used on him and he was beaten by guards. In a phone call to Al Jazeera, Mohammad al-Qurani said the abuse continued this year, after Barack Obama, the US president, took power and promised to end abuse at the jail. Al Jazeera’s Monica Villamizar reports (3:07):
The Chadian ambassador to the US has told Al Jazeera he will raise claims of the abuse of one of its citizens at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp with the US authorities.
Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday that Mohamed al-Qurani had been beaten and tear-gassed by guards after Barack Obama, the US president, pledged to end abuse at the camp in January.
“I will bring these allegations to my authorities and also will talk to my counterparts at the state department,” Mahmoud al-Bashir, the Chadian ambassador to the US.
Al-Bashir said he would raise the case with the Office of War Crimes, which advises Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, on international and domestic war crimes issues.
The US state department refused to comment on the claims, made to Al Jazeera in a phone call made by al-Qurani from the camp. >>>
Sami al-Hajj speaks on abuse claims
Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera journalist who spent six years in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, discusses his conversation with Mohammed al-Qaraani, who remains at the prison and has complained of abuse (1:53):
The allegations by al-Qurani come after claims by several other Guantanamo inmates that they had been subjected to mistreatment, in violation of international law.
Richard Armitage, who served as the US deputy secretary of state during the Bush administration, told Al Jazeera that he could have stepped down in light of Washington’s move to act outside the Geneva Convention.
“In hindsight, maybe I should have [resigned],” Armitage told Al Jazeera’s Avi Lewis.
“But you are in one of those positions where there are many more battles that you have. You maybe fool yourself – you say ‘Well, how much worse would X, Y or Z be if I were not here?'”
But Armitage also criticised the US congress for failing to ensure the safety and well-being of Guantanamo detainees.
“You might go back to what was envisioned by the frameworks of the constitution, and that is called congressional oversight,” he said.
“This is their [congress’] job. I don’t think members of the senate particularly want to look into these things as they may have to look at themselves in the mirror.”
Chad to complain
In a related development, the ambassador of Chad to the US told Al Jazeera on Tuesday he would raise the claims of abuse of one of its citizens with the US authorities.
“I will bring these allegations to my authorities and also will talk to my counterparts at the state department,” Mahmoud al-Bashir said.
Al-Bashir said he would raise the case with the Office of War Crimes, which advises Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, on international and domestic war-crimes issues.
The envoy also said al-Qurani was subjected to mistreatment when he was detained in Pakistan in 2001.
“When he was detained he was only 15 years old. He was not treated as underage. He was treated in isolation. He was subjected to ill-treatment. And we have been working closely with the state department to solve it,” he said.
Al-Bashir also said that he had been told that al-Qurani had been set to be released earlier this month and that the Chadian government had assured the US he would be treated fairly on his return. >>>