Binyam Mohamed’s feelings on the British attitude to his case.

September 8, 2008

Image of hands in shackles

Binyam Mohamed’s feelings on the British attitude to his case now

On the “welfare visit” from the Foreign Office that took place on 23 July 2008:

• I was grateful to see someone from the British government at long last. I hoped that, after Clive spoke about the conditions I’m facing, the UK government would take steps to improve them. I even asked for my visitor to be allowed to view my cell, and witness the conditions for himself – but I understand that the US refused to allow this. I am disappointed to say that, over three weeks after this “welfare” visit happened, there has been no improvement in my welfare.

• I said I had health problems, and could not get in to see the doctor. I was told these problems would be investigated and resolved.

• To this day, when I met my lawyer, I still have not been allowed to see a doctor. In fact, things are getting worse for me in this prison every day.

• I expected retaliation for raising my living conditions, and that seems to have been exactly what happened.

• Not only am I denied my medical requests – and indeed any other request – I am held in a wing of Camp V where abuse is the order of the day.

In the past four days, for example, I witnessed a prisoner – a prisoner who had been hunger-striking for over twenty days – be physically dragged from his cell for force-feeding. The mistreatment escalated from there: on day 3 this man had his head slammed into the floor. On day 4, he was beaten so badly before the force-feeding that it seemed his leg broke and he required four stitches in his cut hand.

All of this abuse came from this man’s unsuccessful attempts to get medical treatment. They ignored him, so he exercised the only option he had: engaging in a peaceful hunger strike, as is his right. And the message from the authorities is clear: rock the boat – that is, make the slightest complaint about your ill-treatment – and we will respond with violence.

• It is deeply disturbing to see and hear this abuse day after day. But I can’t avoid it, because it is taking place right in front of my cell.

• What is more, it tells me that if I, in protest of my failure to receive medical care, begin a hunger strike once more, I can expect the same treatment to be meted out upon me.

• These are exactly the kinds of issues I hoped the welfare visit would resolve. What use is the UK checking up on me if they then do not either 1) bring me immediately home or 2) make my life here bearable while my release is negotiated?

The second issue I want to raise is the litigation about me in the UK:

• I have learned that the UK has refused to give my lawyers information to help me prove my innocence – and that the UK has taken the position in court that I will get all the information I could possibly need through the rigged military courts, or through the “habeas” process.

• How can they possibly be taking this position? Lord Steyn himself called these commissions “kangaroo courts” years ago, and he was exactly right. And I understood the official UK position to be that the commissions were unfair, and illegal, and that Britons should never be forced to go through them.

• So how, then, can they say that the very people who tortured me, rendered me, and now want to try me in a kangaroo court will just hand over the evidence of their own criminal acts? For the UK to say this is naïve, at best, and a betrayal, at worst.

• And as for habeas – I have been here for over six years, and I have yet to see a single scrap of proof come out of habeas. Why should I, or the UK, think it will be different now?

• The UK has now spoken to me.The UK knows, I believe, what I go through every day.The UK should understand that no person could withstand this kind of treatment for much longer.

• To leave me in these conditions and, to add insult to injury, to defend the rigged process I am facing here, is a disgrace. I hope the UK government will reconsider its position before it is too late.

Signed this 11th day of August 2008.

Binyam Mohamed

Cori Crider (witness)

-ENDS-

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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