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Tajikistan: Guantanamo ex-prisoner will sue George W. Bush and the Pentagon
By Shukhrat Shodiyev
July 20, 2007

Abdul-Karim Ergashev, citizen of Tajikistan and ex-prisoner in Guantanamo, intends to slap US President George W. Bush and the Pentagon with an injury claim.

In 2001, Ergashev travelled in search of his missing brother to Afghanistan and found himself taken prisoner there. He spent nearly two years in Guantanamo and returned to Tajikistan only two years ago, the first of eleven Tajik prisoners to come back.

According to Ergashev, he was with Uzbek refugees in Afghanistan. Citizens of Uzbekistan, they all had fled their native country to escape Islam Karimov's regime. Very many of them fled by whole families, taking children and old parents with them.

"I was a driver in their camp," Ergashev said. "Everyone scattered when the Americans invaded Afghanistan and bombardments began. I wanted to go home too but couldn't because I did not have any papers or even money. Closer to the end of winter 2002, I drifted to the town of Tahor and the rais or chairman of a nearby village offered me a job. He said I would become his personal driver. I said "Why not?". It was a chance to earn my fare back. The man said the auto was waiting in one of the kishlaks (settlements) in Mazar-e-Sharif and we went there to collect it. The man brought me to some household and asked me to wait while he went and fetched the keys. The Afghani police broke into the building as soon as he left. They had me handcuffed and blindfolded in no time at all and turned me over to the waiting Americans. The Americans had been waiting nearby, you know. They ordered me to don a special blue coverall marking me as a POW. It occurred to me then that they had deliberately left me in the house in order to sell me to the Americans as a terrorist or Talib... I was taken to the city of Bagram where I was imprisoned with very many others for March-May 2002. It was Kandahar after that and finally Guantanamo, in September that year."

The Americans paid $5,000 for a Talib soldier and twice that for officer. The Afghani police found it quite to their liking. When they discovered that there was nobody else to be sold to the US Army, they turned on pedestrians. As a matter of fact, some men the Americans ended up with were mental cases.

According to Ergashev, he was given hepatitis C in Guantanamo and had his gall amputated without a reason. The ex-prisoner has grave health problems nowadays. Seeing the Americans absolutely indifferent and disinclined to offer him any recompense or aid, Ergashev decided to sue Bush and the Pentagon.

According to the data compiled by Human Rights Watch, the Americans have transferred to Guantanamo over 700 men arrested in Afghanistan and other regions since January 11, 2002.

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