Pakistani taxi driver endured 545 days of torture in CIA custody before Guantánamo. No charge or trial.
Ahmed was a taxi driver in Pakistan mistaken by intelligence services for a known extremist. He endured 545 days of torture in CIA custody before being rendered to Guantánamo.
Ahmed has been held in Guantánamo since 2004. He has never been charged with a crime, and never had a trial. Since 2013, he has been on hunger strike in a peaceful protest at his indefinite detention.
At the beginning of his ordeal, Ahmed was 32 years old and living in Karachi. He is Pakistani, and grew up with his family as migrants in Saudi Arabia. Ahmed was married and his wife had recently given birth to their son. He had built up a life that included a taxi business.
On 10th September 2002, the Pakistani intelligence service came to his house to arrest him. As revealed in the US Senate Torture Report, they thought he was a well-known extremist named Hassan Ghul.
Ahmed had been misidentified, but they tortured him until he told them what they wanted to hear. He has described how his torture began with threats of rape against his wife. The Pakistani forces threw the family out of their home, and detained his wife and child.
Ahmed was soon sold for a bounty of $5,000 to the US authorities, and his torture continued. As confirmed by the Senate’s report, Ahmed went on to be subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’ He has described being tortured constantly during his 545 days in CIA secret prisons, including the ‘Dark Prison’, a site that takes its name from the complete blackness in which the prisoners were held. The techniques used on Ahmed included strappado, which is designed gradually and painfully to dislocate the shoulders.
In January 2013, a wide-spread hunger strike started at Guantánamo. The prisoners were peacefully protesting their indefinite detention in the only way they could – by refusing food. Ahmed joined, because he believed that neither he nor others should be detained without charges or a trial. He has described being violently force-fed twice daily.
He says this process is neither being allowed to live, nor being allowed to die.
Illustration by @carysboughton
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