After 20 years of torture and indefinite and arbitrary detention, former Guantanamo detainee Abdulqadir Al-Madhfari was transferred to Yemen from his cell in a United Arab Emirates (UAE) jail. Regardless of being cleared of all costs, his freedom didn’t even final for a day. This text is in his honour.
Abdulqadir Al-Madhfari was a medical scholar who travelled to Pakistan in 2001 to proceed his research. He was kidnapped and bought to the Central Intelligence Company (CIA) by the Pakistani authorities following the 9/11 assaults. This story is a well-recognized one by now.
Like many Muslim males bought to the US for bounty money, or taken because of mistaken identity, he was put in an orange jumpsuit, shackled, hooded, blindfolded and flown to Guantanamo Bay the place he remained for 14 years. He endured torture earlier than being launched in 2016 with no trial, or any costs in opposition to him.
In 2016, Al-Madhfari, together with 17 Yemenis, three Afghanis and one Russian, was transferred to the UAE as a part of a resettlement settlement between the US and the UAE governments, which promised to assist them begin a brand new life.
This was publicly bought because the UAE doing its half to assist the Obama administration shut Guantanamo. These males thought that their ordeal had come to an finish, and their legal professionals assured them so.
Nonetheless, as quickly as they landed, Emirati forces seized them, and so they spent an additional 5 years in a UAE jail, the place they have been additional abused and tortured. This time, neither their legal professionals, nor any human rights organisations, have been allowed to go to or talk with them.
Al-Madhfari has lived in isolation since 2017, after his psychological well being deteriorated. Throughout a telephone name, his brother advised me that he was punished for having a “psychological drawback”.
For the final three years, I’ve been intently following these 21 instances, speaking with the households. Their instances have been additionally a part of my closing 12 months thesis in 2021, entitled “Rehabilitation and integration of former Guantanamo detainees into social life and the labour market.”
The UAE begins shifting males to Yemen
The UEA stands out because the worst nation coping with launched prisoners from Guantanamo and has repatriated many to war-torn Yemen.
Final 12 months, a United Nations human rights expert warned and referred to as the UAE to halt its plans to forcibly repatriate males to Yemen, urging that their pressured return places their lives in danger and violates worldwide human rights and humanitarian legal guidelines, as they’d be focused by totally different militia teams.
Many legal professionals and activists additionally warned in opposition to sending males again to Yemen. The households of the 21 males, with the assistance of CAGE, has continued to push for his or her launch to a protected third nation, sending letters to the US State Division and US officers. Nonetheless, none confirmed any intention of serving to, regardless of the previous prisoners being cleared of costs and remaining trapped in a UAE jail.
Final Could, a member of the family acquired a name from his brother within the UAE jail telling him that some Yemeni prisoners had been hospitalised after contracting COVID-19. To exacerbate issues, the UAE knowledgeable the prisoners once more that they’d be despatched to Yemen. CAGE started making makes an attempt to inform the Biden administration, however once more, there was no reply from Washington.
Al-Madhfari’s psychological well being deteriorated within the UAE jail as a consequence of extended durations in solitary confinement and torture. “We misplaced contact with him and haven’t heard from him since 2017,” his brother Ameen advised me. “We used to name him whereas he was at Guantanamo and he appeared mentally okay.” However then, issues went silent.
‘He was afraid of his family and would not communicate to us’
Final month, the state of affairs escalated after the UAE deported 12 Yemeni former Guantanamo prisoners, hooded, shackled and blindfolded, to Al-Mukalla airport in Hadramout, which was below the management of a UAE-aligned militia group in Yemen.
The deportation was sudden. It got here with out coordination with any human rights organisations, legal professionals or households.
“We simply acquired a message that we must always come to Hadramout to gather my brother,” mentioned Ameen. “Once we arrived, Abdulqadir could not recognise any of us.”
As an alternative, their very own son and brother refused to talk to them and even accused his household of being Emiratis enjoying a trick on him.
“He was afraid and confused,” recounted Ameen. “He refused to depart with us. We spent 5 days attempting to persuade him, however with every time, it bought solely worse. In the long run, the UAE militia blindfolded him and compelled him into the automotive with us.”
Al-Madhfari tried to withstand when he discovered himself within the automotive, however he had no selection however to conform. His elder brother and uncle drove again to Sanaa, the place his elder brother lives, arriving at night time.
The day after his arrival in Sanaa, on 11 November, he insisted on going for a stroll. Whereas his household accompanied him, he slipped away and disappeared. Later, police advised the household that Al-Madhfari had been kidnapped by Houthi militia.
“We don’t know the place he’s being held,” Ameen defined.
However Abdulrahman Barman, a lawyer and the chief director of the American Centre for Justice, mentioned: “A lot of the males are in areas managed by armed teams that do not recognise the regulation and human rights.” He’s referring to the Houthis and the Southern Transitional Council.
The haunting shadow of torture
The household was in shock, firstly by Al-Madhfari’s psychological state, after which additional devastated by his disappearance.
“We fought for 20 years to free him,” mentioned Ameen. “Now, his sisters could not greet him, he did not recognise any of us, and his elder brother was admitted to a hospital for days after listening to this information.”
The shadow of torture hangs closely over the household. Because the abduction, Al-Madhfari has been held at an undisclosed location, and the household has no information of his whereabouts. They’re denied visits and any contact with him.
“We’re working by way of mediators attempting to clarify to the Houthis about his case and his psychological well being,” in response to Ameen. “We hope they are going to launch him.”
However Yemen is like an abyss. Because the nation fell into warfare, torture, kidnapping, arbitrary detention, assassinations and disappearances have develop into frequent.
In an interview with the director of human rights organisation SAM, Tawfiq Al-Hamidi, he shared that SAM has documented 18 secret prisons run by the UAE in Aden and Hadramout, the place prisoners have been tortured, raped and even killed.
He additionally mentioned that the UAE employed mercenaries to remove those that opposed the UAE presence in Yemen. Hundreds have been imprisoned and disappeared in UEA secret prisons, and plenty of instances have been effectively documented by the Related Press and Yemeni human rights organisations.
The unaccountability that presided at Guantanamo has given the inexperienced mild to one of these terror worldwide. The Yemeni authorities and plenty of militia teams there have been accused of working their very own secret prisons, and all are known to torture. It’s also reported that the US was a part of a few of these UAE operations and interrogations in Yemen.
Final month, when the US was elected to the UN Human Rights Council, President Joe Biden vowed to advertise accountability for governments and proceed supporting activists and human rights defenders. Nonetheless, there has nonetheless been no accountability for US actions at Guantanamo, and the very least that the US can do is publicly query the UEA about these misplaced males. The alleged function of Washington in a number of the transfers ought to be investigated.
The legacy of Guantanamo can solely finish with the security of all its prisoners
Whereas the media reviews with reduction on the discharge of males from Guantanamo, this isn’t the top for us. Many people discover ourselves trapped abroad, criminalised and a burden to our households, because of the lack of rehabilitation and essential assist integrating again into society.
There are a lot of instances much like Al-Madhfari’s, the place former detainees have confronted imprisonment, torture and dying as a consequence of medical negligence.
Whereas 39 males are nonetheless held at Guantanamo, one other dozen have been cleared for launch. However the place will they go? And what ensures for security have they got?
Biden promised to shut Guantanamo when he was elected in 2020. To this point, just one detainee has been released.
However a “launch” now could be not a promise of freedom, not to mention security. Usually, males like us merely stroll from one Guantanamo into one other.
The views expressed on this article belong to the writer and don’t essentially replicate the editorial coverage of Center East Monitor.