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HRW, Locked Up Alone (El Gharani)

Truly the forgotten child in Guantanamo, [Mohammed] El Gharani, a now-21-year-old Chadian who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in a mosque in Karachi, Pakistan and eventually brought to Guantanamo in early 2002. Although he was just 15 upon arrival, he was wrongly classified as 25 and held as an adult.

El Gharani has been in Camp 5 and Camp 6 for the best part of two years.

He has tried to commit suicide at least seven times. He has slit his wrist, run repeatedly headfirst into the sides of his cell, and tried to hang himself. On several occasions, he has been put on suicide watch in the mental health unit, given the green suicide smock, and placed in a single cell with no other items other than toilet paper. Each time, he has been moved out of the suicide unit and back into Camp 5 or Camp 6.

El Gharani, who is described by his lawyers as extremely bright, has taught himself English.

He claims that the first English word he learned was “nigger,” and that he has been subject to repeated racial harassment since he arrived in Guantanamo. In fact, two guards have reportedly been investigated and disciplined for racially harassing El Gharani during the middle of 2007—a time during which El Gharani tried to kill himself twice. El Gharani reports, however, that he still sometimes sees the two guards on his cell block.

Often subject to punishment for reported disciplinary problems, El Gharani says he is often left with nothing in his cell other than a mat for sleeping, the Koran, and toilet paper. He says that at times even some of the basic items that all detainees are reportedly allowed at all times—including a finger tooth brush and small bar of soap—have been taken away.

He has never been provided any educational or additional recreation opportunities in accordance with his juvenile status at the time of capture. He has never been allowed to speak with—let alone see—any of his family members during his more than six years in US custody.

El Gharani claims that his eyes are being damaged due to the fluorescent lights kept on in his cell 24 hours a day.88


88. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Zachary Katznelson, attorney for Mohammad El Gharani, May 29, 2008.

Source: Human Rights Watch, Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo, June, 2008, pp. 34f.