Marlene Obeid, Sydney
The US government claims that investigations by the US Navy's Criminal Investigative Service have found no evidence that two Australian citizens, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habid, were abused while held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The letter — from Ryan Henry, principal deputy US undersecretary of defence for policy, to Australia's ambassador — was released to the news media on July 17 by PM John Howard in Washington, shortly before his meeting with President George Bush.
The US military has thus exonerated itself of any crimes committed by US military personnel against Hicks and Habib.
In an interview I conducted with him, Habib said: "There were four levels at Guantanamo, level four being at the bottom. I never left level four. I was in isolation most of the time, handcuffed and shackled, wearing only shorts; constantly bashed to the floor of my cell — a metal cage, with metal floor. I was beaten, kicked, and spat on. This was the way I was treated for 'not cooperating'."
According to Habib, the guards made up any excuse to abuse him. His ribs were once dislocated and pushed back into place by an investigation team. The temperature in the cell was always near freezing point. He was provided with a small, thin blanket at 11pm that was withdrawn at 4am. At one interrogation session, he had blood smeared all over his face by a naked female prostitute. Habib said he was bashed only two or three weeks before being released — one of his arms was fractured at the time. Joe Marguilles, his solicitor, saw this condition and noted it in a report.
A couple of weeks ago, David McLeod, Hicks' solicitor, visited him at the Guantanamo Bay prison. Hicks complained that he was losing his eyesight. According to McLeod, this is a direct result of how much time he has spent in the dark.
Hicks has also complained of back pains which, according to his father, Terry, can be attributed to his being constantly bashed and kicked by his guards, and from spending 23 hours a day handcuffed and shackled. If all of this is not abuse, what is?
[Marlene Obeid is a campaigner for the Justice for Hicks and Habib campaign. To get involved, email her at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.]
From Green Left Weekly, July 27, 2005.
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