Monday, July 29, 2013

Obama works to “free” 2 Algerian prisoners at Guantanamo, sending them back home, but is it really “free”?

Last week, the Obama Administration began working to repatriate two prisoners to their home country,  Algeria, as part of his most recent promise to begin releasing some of the 86 innocent men, held prisoner, for nearly 12 years in Guantanamo.

As part of the all new campaign to close Guantanamo (after ignoring it for 4 years), Obama has finally appointed someone to oversee the closure and transfer of the men who had been declared innocent by two separate commissions.  Sounds all so great, right?  Obama finally keeping a campaign promise to close this blight? (oh, was "congress that stopped it".  right, sure.  Obama, easily and readily cowed by Congress choosing the easy way of inaction instead of taking a stand for humanity and justice...............but I digress).

"Over the past few months, a very senior interagency team conducted an intensive review of this matter. Based on their recommendations, and as mandated by Congress, Secretary Hagel signed off on the legal requirements to move forward with the transfer these detainees.  Secretary Hagel fully supports the President's goal of closing Guantanamo Bay and this upcoming transfer brings us closer towards reaching that goal."

Interesting that "interagency team"  was charged to act only after the current hunger strike resulted in a blow up  that the MSM could not completely ignore - misreport, outrageously spin, maybe, but not completely ignore;  And was charged to act only after repeated reports of abuse and the re-institution of  force feeding policies that have brought outrage from medical professionals, religious leaders and international press and calls for cessation by not only the AMA but also the British Medical Association.

Algeria, has its way of repatriating innocent men and this administration, the Pentagon and Congress  know exactly how they do it....just ask ex-Guantanamo detainee Abdul Aziz Naji........

Abdul Aziz Naji,
Algerian prisoner at Guantanamo, 2002-2010,
Internment Serial Number was 744.

Abdul Aziz Naji was in Pakistan in 2002, offering  humanitarian assistance to Muslims and Christians in Kashmir.  He was also in search of a wife that would match his devotion to Islam.  While there, he stepped on an unexploded land mine (landmines riddle the area on both sides of the  border with Kashmir).  He lost his leg and spent months in the hospital in order to heal.   One day, he was advised to visit another Algerian in the city of Peshawar who could introduce him to women who might be available for marriage...

Upon arriving at the home of the Algerian, he and the homeowner were promptly arrested.  There was never any charges or accusations made, he was never involved in anything beyond the missionary/humanitarian work but was arrested anyway.  He was told by the Pakistanis that he would be released, but. instead, was handed over to the US, sent to Bagram and subsequently Guantanamo.

In 2010, the Obama Administration declared that Abdul Aziz would be returned to Algeria, promised safe passage and repatriation.....The prisoner tried to argue against being returned to Algeria since he feared for both his life and freedom if he was returned - he was ignored; He was returned even after the State Department issued their own findings in a report on Algeria in 2010 that expressed serious concerns about “poor prison conditions, abuse of prisoners, and lack of judicial independence.”

Abdul Aziz Naji was proven justified in his fears.  He is being  held in the  El Harache prison in the capital, Algiers. According to Reprieve (founded by Clive Stafford Smith, the London based organization works to enforce human rights around the world) :

" January 2012 the Algerian Supreme Court sentenced him [Naji] to three years of prison after a brief “trial”, accusing him of the same crimes the US authorities had already cleared him of. No evidence was presented at the trial - the out-dated and discredited allegations alone were enough to get him convicted."

Naji 's brother, Okba, states Naji is now on hunger strike to protest human rights violations and treatment,  His brother states his health is failing but not just from the hunger strike.  Abdul Aziz is in pain and suffering from the injury sustained in Pakistan.  (While in Guantanamo, the US "fitted" him with a poorly made  prosthetic leg that is way too small for him and causes suffering and an inability to function).

Okba states:

“He was not allowed to speak in court; the judge did not allow him,” says Okba, who was unable to attend the hearing in what was believed to have been a closed court session."

More on the case of Abdul Aziz Najib can be found at Andy Worthington's  site and his book, "The Guantanamo Files." 

The authorities continued to restrict freedoms of expression, association and assembly, dispersing demonstrations and harassing human rights defenders. Women faced discrimination in law and practice. Perpetrators of gross human rights abuses during the 1990s, and torture and other ill-treatment against detainees in subsequent years, continued to benefit from impunity. Armed groups carried out lethal attacks. At least 153 death sentences were reported; there were no executions....
Algeria’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in May. The government failed to address recommendations to abolish laws originating under the state of emergency, in force from 1992 until 2011, to ease restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly, and to recognize the right to truth of families of victims of enforced disappearances during the 1990s.

As  reports come in about Algeria, Algeria looks a lot like more "Guantanamo" to me....

So, why would Barack Obama send innocent men back to a place where he knows those innocent men will only receive the same mistreatment and abuse?

I believe I may have said something about choosing the easy way ...... instead of taking a stand for humanity and justice.

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