Testimony to Witness to Guantanamo (Khaled Ben Mustafa)
All Part of the System
Ultimately, there is no use in seeing a psychologist because he is just going to listen to you and then he will prescribe some medicine. We all know what the problem is; it isn't going to be fixed with medicine. The psychologist knows the problem; he knows what's wrong with you. So, there is some hypocrisy behind all this, because everyone knows what the problem is; it isn't hard to figure out. When you see the living conditions in Guantanamo, you know what the problem is. So, he is going to listen to you; he is going to give you medicine. But he too is an accomplice in the system. You know what I mean? In Guantanamo, everyone you met, they were all part of the system. One cannot trust anyone in Guantanamo; not anyone, because they are all on the same side. They are all fine with the system.
When we had just arrived in Guantanamo, they gave us pills. What did they call them? I don't know what for. There was some illness, I don't know what it was. And they give us some sort of pill—a lot of pills. I forget why. And you must take them. And we didn't want to take them; we don't want any medicine. We do not trust them at all. Even if we are ill we don't want any medicine. And that caused a huge problem at first. At first there were many many problems with this issue. And we must take the medicine in front of the nurse. The nurse is there; he checks whether you've actually taken the pill, and then he says "Open your mouth," in order to make sure that you haven't hidden it. There were immunization shots against Hepatitis B, C… Some people never agreed to get the shot. And if you don't want to receive that shot, they bring in the intervention squad [i.e. the Immediate Reaction Force or IRF]. So they handcuff us, they gas us, handcuffs, then they inject the vaccine by force. Immunizations were compulsory. We just cannot trust them, you see?
I will tell you something that may shock you. But when I returned to France, I was sent to jail, right away, and when I was in jail, I went to see the doctor. I asked him for a blood test to see whether I had AIDS—and the doctor agreed. Later he asked me, "Did you engage in sexual intercourse that you're worried about?" I told him "No, I had no sexual intercourse, but I'm coming from Guantanamo, and I was given many injections there. I don't trust them. I don't know what they injected me with." He told me, "But the Americans are very up to date; they only use clean needles." I said, "You do not understand, I think they've injected me on purpose" He cannot understant it; he could not understand. But in my heart I was sincere, because I cannot trust them. In truth, it is impossible to trust them. It is shocking to tell you this, but I was convinced—I was certain—that they had injected me with something. That was our state of mind in Guantanamo.
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Detainees protesting and military response
When we want to protest, there aren't many options. There isn't much that we can do. What do we do, for instance, when they come to distribute the meals? We take the meals, we eat, and then we must return the plates. So, we refuse to hand back the plates. We don't have many options to show that we're angry. And when we don't return the plates, this presents them with a huge problem. Because they absolutely must get them back. And when fifty or a hundred of you are acting in this way, this is a huge problem for them, because they will have to organize those interventions [i.e. IRFs] with a hundred people, or fifty people. They will call on every single soldier. Afterwards, they're very tired. Because, for each cell, they bring in about six, seven, eight, soldiers; in full gear, with helmets, with sprays (what they call "gas"). They spray you… So, for one person, for two persons, that is easy for them; but when there are many of us, they cannot manage anymore. Then they negotiate.
So I witnessed that. I took part in that protest, I didn't agree to go out to the shower, or to return the plates, and so they intervened. They spray you, they use the spray, then they open the door, and they come in, six or seven all at once, so you cannot move; it's over. They handcuff you, and then they drag you out. Supposedly to remove the gas off your face, they take a water hose; the hose is this large [gestures the size of his face] and they place it right here [gestures right in front of his mouth]. You cannot breathe anymore. They say that they do this to remove the gas off your face. Actually, that's not true; they do it to drown you. You understand? That's how it goes.
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