Al Quwari: Allegations of Abuse, ARB 2006
Detainee (through translator): <…> First of all, there is a person here, a detainee, named Fouad Rabia. He was in the same place with me during these three weeks. During the past tribunals, I had asked to <sic> Board to provide me with the testimony of this particular detainee who could testify that (1) during the period we were together, I had never carried a weapon; (2) there were no weapons at the place we were. (3) that place was a food supply warehouse that the Afghans were responsible for. (4) Usama bin Laden had never been in that place. I am still asking for the testimony of that person, either a written or an oral statement. I think this is my right to ask for it because that person was with <sic> at Tora Bora for the entire three weeks and we left together. Together we were sold to the Northern Alliance. I believe that this is a very important and simple thing because this man is here in this detention facility. I do not know why I was not able to have him as a witness.
Presiding Officer: I can answer that. For this proceeding we do no bring in other witnesses.
Detainee (through translator): How about a written statement?
Presiding Officer: A written statement, yes.
Detainee (through translator): I am a prisoner and most of the time I am shackled and locked up in my cell. I cannot go personally to that man and ask him for a written statement. I had asked for his testimony during the tribunals with CSRT <or Combatant Status Review Tribunal> and I am asking you again to please ask for a written statement from this person. This is a very important witness to me. I believe it would be a simple thing for you to contact the prison officials. It would probably take you five minutes to get this statement that would help my case. In the first ARB, end of the year ago, my Assisting Military Officer told me that I could provide any statement from anyone living anywhere in the world. This man is not living in a different continent. He is here with me in this detention facility. It would probably take him five minutes to write the statement that would be very helpful to me.
Presiding Officer: Did Fouad Rabia testify at your CSRT?
Detainee (through translator): No. I understood that he could not.
Presiding Officer: We just learned about you wanting a statement from him.
Detainee (through translator): I am sorry, but the first time we met, I told you that I wanted a testimony from him.
Board Member: Do you mean ARB 1?
Detainee (through translator): The first time I met this linguist and this AMO <or Assisting Military Officer>, I told them that I had a witness in this detention facility that would be able to testify on my behalf.
Presiding Officer: Assisting Military Officer, do you have any record of that request?
Assisting Military Officer: That was from the oral statement, Sir.
Presiding Officer: We misunderstood that you wanted that statement here. It is a difference in the language.
Detainee (through translator): <…> I would like you to consider certain points from a person who has been detained five years and knows that he does not deserve detention <…> being detained for five years is a very difficult thing and it is still continuing. Even if I am a detainee, I am still a human being. Let's say that I am a criminal, I would still be a human being <…> Even if I were a criminal, I would still be a human being. To be free is one of my rights, especially when I am completely convinced that I have not committed any crimes against the United States. I know this about myself very well. This is one point. The second point is that we have been subjected to hostile treatments in this detention facility and I am convinced that you know about it. This is not secretive information; it has gone out to the press and everyone knows about it. There is a psychological program that the detainees are subjected to and all of you know about it. This type of program you actually train your troops on it. Unfortunately it was not just the interrogations, but also the administration, and the guards have been applying the same program. There is no respect for human or religious rights and we are being subjected to humiliation. As I told you, I am still a human being. Naturally a person can be patient the first, second and third time, but it is
human nature to have a reaction afterwards. This is a good point and very important also because it has something to do with security procedures that pertain to the detention administration. They avoid any type of cooperation between the guards and the detainees; they implement programs for the guards and make them hostile toward the detainees. That’s why you find these types of reaction from the detainees in retaliation to the hostility of the guards. But I did not do anything to humiliate the guards. For example some detainees have thrown urine at the guards, I have never agreed nor have I ever done that. I just asked for my rights based on the directives of the detention facility for the guards. When one of the guards mistreat <sic> me and I ask for an official or his boss, the guard doesn’t like that, and at the end the guard writes what he wishes in a statement and consequently, I receive punishment based on the guard’s statement. For example I am wearing this orange suit because I had a problem with my wrist. I went to the doctor who gave me a bandage for my wrist. There were directives on the computer that when the guards come to handcuff me that I should hold him because I shouldn’t hurt my wrist. One of the guards came and I explained that I had pain in my wrist. The guard said, “I don’t care.” I was very patient so he could take the handcuffs off and as he was taking them off he twisted my hand. I was in such pain that I could not bear it. I simply removed my hand from his. That’s all I did. I am still a human being and I do feel pain. However, the statement that the guard had written said that I removed my hand so that I could hit him. Of course my punishment was based upon the statement the guard wrote. That’s why I look like a bad person today.
Presiding Officer: What color uniform were you wearing when that happened?Detainee (through translator): White suit. I would like to say that the statements regarding detainees' behaviors are not true.
This seems to be a reference to the SERE (or Survive-Evade-Resist-Escape) program. Developed as a defensive program to prepare US troops in the event they fell in the hands of forces that did not abide by the Geneva Conventions, the SERE program was eventually turned into an offensive program for the harsh interrogation of prisoners in US custody. For more information on the relevance of this program for Guantánamo, enter SERE in the search window above.