Shaker Aamer describes what torture methods were used against him and others at America’s most infamous prison
By Sara Chaudhry
Shaker Aamer was the last British resident of Guantanamo Bay where he was held without trial for 14 years. The US military classified him as a threat, but the claims were baseless allegations and he was never charged. According to Aamer’s lawyers the case against him came from unreliable allegations that were extracted during brutal torture. His treatment at the US military base in Cuba raises some serious questions about the illegality of the inhumane torture he was subjected to all in the name of the so-called war on terror.
In one of the most heartbreaking yet profound interviews Aamer speaks to the BBC about his experience from his treatment at the Bagram Air Base, Kandahar Airfield and the Cuban facility Guantanamo Bay.
Aamer’s story highlights the responsibility and complicity of both the US and UK during his ill treatment. During the 90-minute interview Aamer talks about what it was like living in isolation, and how he tried to bring a sense of normality back into his life, despite his conditions. He cheerfully talks about how he became so fascinated by nature and animals. He spent his time befriending ants, cats and birds to keep him sane and connected to creation.
His courage and experience teaches us about the virtues of patience and the need to stand up for justice. Despite being tortured for years he always believed that he would be freed because he was innocent. He always had hope.
In an interview with ITV News he describes the details of his torture. “With every sense of the meaning: torture. It’s a pure torture. I’ve been kept for nine days awake. I was standing 18 hours a day. There was all kind of things, from freezing you, throwing freezing water on your head while you are standing on concrete, freezing cold, 20 below zero with the hedgehog ties, which is when they tie your hands and your legs together and you cannot relax because your hands are behind your back.
“With all the beating which happened, hitting my head against the wall which happened once, no, more than once, because it was the real interrogation time when they were trying to break me down and they did that.”
After everything he has been through, from solitary confinement, beatings, humiliation and threats to his family he won’t be taking legal action. He simply wants people to know the truth. There is a great need to continue campaigning until the truth is exposed about Guantanamo and it is shut down for good.
Aamer said it was difficult to adjust to normal life. “I’m here. It’s not easy to be here. Even though you all think I am a very strong person and I try so hard to act to be normal, but it is hard. But I say “Alhamdulliah” (thank God) I thank my Lord that I am back with my wife and kids and I am just trying to get back to my life,” he said.
Every civilization has had a group of people that have faced oppression and we are seeing a continuation of this today. A friend of mine recently told me that she can’t watch the news too much because it depresses her and it makes her feel powerless. And I’m not even surprised given the number of atrocities that we see from the merciless bombings in Syria, to the hateful comments about Muslims by American candidates. However, shouldn’t the news also empower us to challenge skewed views and injustice? The reason I am writing this article is to give a platform to Aamer’s moving story. After all, the most powerful tool we have is speaking the truth in times of injustice. It is the least he deserves.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on UmmahWide.com.