Last Letter from Guantánamo
13 years ago Younous Chekkouri was told “you’re going to hell” by the American guards as they put him on a plane to Guantánamo.
He quickly learned what they meant – 13 years of torture and detention without trial. 13 years of separation from his wife, Alba. 13 years of hunger striking, force-feeding and beatings.
We never gave up, and our work has resulted in the release of an innocent man. In 2015, Younous was transferred to his home country of Morocco, but his suffering did not end there – the Moroccan authorities broke their promise to keep him safe and ensure his freedom. He was detained on arrival and held for almost five months. Younous was finally freed in February 2016.
This was his final letter from Guantánamo to Reprieve Cortney Bush, who has visited him regularly during his detention.
I write these words to you with my heart and not with my pen. Thirteen years of sorrow and hope are coming to an end soon hopefully. God be willing.
My dear, I can’t find the words to describe my happiness and joy. For it is soon that I will be in the hands of my love that I have been dying to see.
Thank you so much for your great kindness and compassion which I have seen. I would also like to thank Clive for his strength and courage in the face of injustice and oppression; for his position of standing by the weak – until the sun of justice shines and the darkness of oppression disappears.
The image of Clive always reminds me of heroes of the middle ages who surround themselves by a group of exceptional people with rare talents. Intelligence is embodied by Cori the Genius. As for Courtney, she is that little girl with superpowers. Alka’s powers and manoeuvres are not to be underestimated. As for Johanna, Katie, and Tim, they are heroes not afraid to confront any mission or challenge.
My dear, this may be my last letter that I write from this island. It is my hope that the memories of this hardship will soon be erased, and only the best of what came out of it remains…love.
Help former Guantánamo detainees like Younous
Younous’s suffering did not end at Guantánamo’s gates, and neither did our support for him. Reprieve fought to deliver justice and win freedom for Younous, but there are many more prisoners who need our help.
Many former detainees find themselves in unfamiliar lands, often without social support networks. We need funds to provide the medical and psychological care former detainees need to recover from years in ‘hell’, and essentials like accommodation and clothing.