Friday, August 1, 2008

Guantanamo Bay: The 21st Century Guide to Torture

Sami El-Haj is an Aljazeera journalist who at the age of 32 was captured by US forces while covering the war in Afganistan. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he was detained under the toughest conditions for 6 and a half years without charge. Finally released on the 1st May 2008 he tells his story to the Swiss Journalist Silvia Cattori. The integral interview is available in English and French through the links below. We chose the following paragraph because it highlights the specific torture techniques used by US interrogators. The emphasis is less on physical pain than on the psychological traumatisation of a human being through repeated humiliation and degradation. In recent weeks reports have emerged on the role of US Doctors and Psychologists in devising and implementing these efficient, cheap and subtle methods that often leave no physical scars but cause lasting damage to personal integrity and mental health. It is easy to imagine or even assess the impact of such treatments over a sustained period of time but as a word of caution…Please don’t try this at home!


‘They beat us up. They taunted us with racist insults. They locked us in cold rooms, below zero, with one cold meal a day. They hung us up by our hands. They deprived us of sleep, and when we started to fall asleep, they beat us on the head. They showed us films of the most horrendous torture sessions. They showed us photographs of torture victims – dead, swollen, covered in blood. They kept us under constant threat of being moved elsewhere to be tortured even more. They doused us with cold water. They forced us to do the military salute to the American national anthem. They forced us to wear women's clothes. They forced us to look at pornographic images. They threatened us with rape. They would strip us naked and make us walk like donkeys, ordering us around. They made us sit down and stand up five hundred times in a row. They humiliated the detainees by wrapping them up in the Israeli and American flags, which was their way of telling us that we were imprisoned because of a religious war’.

Full Interview in English
Full Interview in French

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