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Old 02-08-2004, 11:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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From the "Not Black and White" File: "I had a good time at Guantanamo," says inm

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I had a good time at Guantanamo, says inmate
By Rajeev Syal
(Filed: 08/02/2004)


An Afghan boy whose 14-month detention by US authorities as a terrorist suspect in Cuba prompted an outcry from human rights campaigners said yesterday that he enjoyed his time in the camp.



Mohammed Ismail Agha, 15, who until last week was held at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, said that he was treated very well and particularly enjoyed learning to speak English. His words will disappoint critics of the US policy of detaining "illegal combatants" in south-east Cuba indefinitely and without trial.

In a first interview with any of the three juveniles held by the US at Guantanamo Bay base, Mohammed said: "They gave me a good time in Cuba. They were very nice to me, giving me English lessons."

Mohammed, an unemployed Afghan farmer, found the surroundings in Cuba at first baffling. After he settled in, however, he was left to enjoy stimulating school work, good food and prayer.

"At first I was unhappy . . . For two or three days [after I arrived in Cuba] I was confused but later the Americans were so nice to me. They gave me good food with fruit and water for ablutions and prayer," he said yesterday in Naw Zad, a remote market town in southern Afghanistan close to his home village and 300 miles south-west of Kabul, the capital.

He said that the American soldiers taught him and his fellow child captives - aged 15 and 13 - to write and speak a little English. They supplied them with books in their native Pashto language. When the three boys left last week for Afghanistan, the soldiers looking after them gave them a send-off dinner and urged them to continue their studies.

"They even took photographs of us all together before we left," he said. Mohammed, however, said he would have to disappoint his captors by not returning to his studies. "I am too poor for that. I will have to look for work," he said.

Mohammed said his detention began in November 2002 when he and a friend, both unemployed, left their farming community for Lashkar Gah, a nearby town. He said that as they stood outside a shop they were detained by a group of armed men who accused them of being members of the Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic movement formerly in power in Afghanistan.

They were then handed over to US soldiers, who took them to the southern city of Kandahar, he claimed. They were taken to Bagram air base, where Mohammed was held in solitary confinement.

"They were asking me if I was Taliban. I said, 'No, I am innocent'. I thought they were going to release me but instead they put me on a plane," he said. "They asked me to wear a hood for part of the journey. When I got off the plane I was in Cuba."

While Mohammed praised the American soldiers who watched over him, he criticised the US authorities for failing to contact his parents for 10 months to let them know that he was alive. "They stole 14 months of my life, and my family's life. I was entirely innocent: just a poor boy looking for work," he said.

Mohammed and his fellow juvenile detainees returned to Afghanistan last week, after the intervention of the International Committee of the Red Cross. His words of praise for the American soldiers in Guantanamo Bay echo those of Faiz Mohammed, an elderly Afghan farmer who was detained at the base for eight months before being released in October 2002.

"They treated us well. We had enough food. I didn't mind [being detained] because they took my old clothes and gave me new clothes," said the farmer, who was partially deaf.

Camp Delta, which superseded the temporary Camp X-Ray, and Camp Iguana, a lower-security detention facility for juveniles, were established as part of President George W Bush's "war on terror".

More than 600 suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects have been held without charge at the barbed-wire camps since December 2001. They include nine Britons and three British residents.

Human rights agencies such as Amnesty International have alleged that the detention of the boys contravened the Geneva Convention, saying the separation from their families amounted to a form of mental torture. One of the boys was just 11 when he was detained.

The US authorities insist that age plays no role in deciding who constitutes a threat. "Age is not a determining factor in detention. We detain enemy combatants who engaged in armed conflict against our forces or provided support to those fighting against us," said a Pentagon spokesman.

Another US government official contradicted Mohammed's claims that he was entirely innocent when detained. The official said last week that one of the three boys had told of being conscripted into an anti-American militia group; a second said that he was abducted by the Taliban and forced to train and fight; while the third was studying in an extremist mosque and captured while preparing to obtain weapons.
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Last edited by Lebell; 02-08-2004 at 11:43 AM..
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Old 02-08-2004, 12:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well does't that just warm the cockles of your heart.

Seriously, I wouldn't expect that the Americans would harm the kids. I am glad they were treated well.

Reminds me of a true story in WW2 hundreds of German P.O.W.s were sent to Canada to sit out the war. Many of them ended up coming back here after the war and establishing lives here.

It would surely be a nice gesture if the American authorities allowed these three boys and their families to emmigrate to the USA.
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Old 02-08-2004, 12:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by james t kirk
It would surely be a nice gesture if the American authorities allowed these three boys and their families to emmigrate to the USA.
I'm a democrate and not even I want that. They serve more use to us in Afghanistan by spreading a good view of Americans, they were fed and clothed by us, and now they rejoin and help rebuild anew their country, which has radically changed in the time they where gone.
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Old 02-08-2004, 01:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Since he has now been released, and he doesnt seem to have been tortured, we have to assume that this child is not suspected of anything.

Why then, was it necessary for America to illegally imprison him for over a year, and what compinsation for this crime will be forthcoming?
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Old 02-08-2004, 01:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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How was he illegally imprisoned if he was suspected of being an illegal combantant?
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Old 02-08-2004, 01:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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They would be prisoners of war if that was the case.

America has not granted them this status, to avoid having to fulfil human rights conventions specifically concerning prisoners of war.

To put it simply, it is not legal to go to another country, arrest someone, take them back to your country and lock them up - without charging them with any crime, without proving in a legal court any wrong doing, and without treating them as prisoners of war.
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Old 02-08-2004, 01:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mojo_PeiPei
How was he illegally imprisoned if he was suspected of being an illegal combantant?
Seriously, the phrase illegal combatant is a sham to get around the rules that are applied to prisoners of war.
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Old 02-08-2004, 01:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well depends. Technically it wasn't an illegal war. Because 1) The Taliban was only recognized as a legitmate regime by something like 4 countries. 2) We never declared war against them. 3) If they were suspected members of Al Qeada then they would be illegal combantants and not granted rights under the Geneva Convention.
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Old 02-08-2004, 02:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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When you find a report of a grown-up prisoner having a good time at guantanamo, then it will not be so black and white. How many adult "unlawful combatants" get a send off dinner?
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Old 02-08-2004, 04:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by filtherton
When you find a report of a grown-up prisoner having a good time at guantanamo, then it will not be so black and white. How many adult "unlawful combatants" get a send off dinner?
Read the whole thing...


Quote:
His words of praise for the American soldiers in Guantanamo Bay echo those of Faiz Mohammed, an elderly Afghan farmer who was detained at the base for eight months before being released in October 2002.

"They treated us well. We had enough food. I didn't mind [being detained] because they took my old clothes and gave me new clothes," said the farmer, who was partially deaf.
Next.....
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Old 02-08-2004, 09:55 PM   #11 (permalink)
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You're right. One kid and an old man said it was allright. Move along folks. Nothing to see here.
Okay, let me requalify. As soon as a middle-aged prime of his life detainee comes forth to tell of all the splendor that was being a detainee in a chain link fence in cuba this will be less than black and white.
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Old 02-08-2004, 10:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by filtherton
You're right. One kid and an old man said it was allright. Move along folks. Nothing to see here.
Okay, let me requalify. As soon as a middle-aged prime of his life detainee comes forth to tell of all the splendor that was being a detainee in a chain link fence in cuba this will be less than black and white.

Something makes me believe that if one did, you still wouldn't change your mind.

Care to just admit it?
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Old 02-08-2004, 10:43 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Well, when your only example of acceptable treatment comes in the form of children and the elderly, people who generally get the kid gloves anyway, than you can hardly claim everybody is having a good old time down there in cuba.

I'll admit that everything down there is just peachy as soon as you admit that "unlawful comabatant" status is a bunch of bullshit. Deal?
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Old 02-08-2004, 10:50 PM   #14 (permalink)
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A fourteen year old had a good time at Guantanamo Bay. Doesn't surprise me, the US soldier is compassionate and professional.

Throughout history, compassionate and professional people owned slaves and often treated those slaves so well that they did not want to leave. If this kid doesn't want to leave, maybe the commanding officer at Guantanamo Bay can let him get his ear pierced and he can become some kind of lifelong bond servant there. (Exodus 21:5-6)
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Old 02-08-2004, 10:58 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by filtherton
Well, when your only example of acceptable treatment comes in the form of children and the elderly, people who generally get the kid gloves anyway, than you can hardly claim everybody is having a good old time down there in cuba.

I'll admit that everything down there is just peachy as soon as you admit that "unlawful comabatant" status is a bunch of bullshit. Deal?

Shrug.

Seriously, it doesn't bother me that there are people, yourself included, who don't like the situation.

I have mixed feelings myself about guantanamo, although I can understand the argument about "unlawful" combatants.

The point of the article was basically to counter the far left fringe that feels we are torturing these people down there (you know, those awful pictures of the prisoners in their little yards, hands tied behind their backs, yada yada yada.)
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Old 02-08-2004, 11:08 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally posted by Lebell

The point of the article was basically to counter the far left fringe that feels we are torturing these people down there (you know, those awful pictures of the prisoners in their little yards, hands tied behind their backs, yada yada yada.)
Gitmo bay only has two logical purposes as I see it. (I don't see a false dilemma but if you do feel free to bring it up)

1: A detention center for people we don't want to release back to their country.

or/and

2: A place where we interrogate people for a period of time and then release them when we have tapped-out their information.

If we are detaining people for reason XYZ, I would be shocked if we were not trying to get information out of them before we send them back to their country.
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Old 02-08-2004, 11:13 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by nanofever
Gitmo bay only has two logical purposes as I see it. (I don't see a false dilemma but if you do feel free to bring it up)

1: A detention center for people we don't want to release back to their country.

or/and

2: A place where we interrogate people for a period of time and then release them when we have tapped-out their information.

If we are detaining people for reason XYZ, I would be shocked if we were not trying to get information out of them before we send them back to their country.
I don't think there is any argument on those two points.

Bush wanted a way and a place to detain people who could be involved in another 9/11 type attack without having to bother with the Geneva convention.

So part of me that likes to see "due process" is bothered, but the other part of me that doesn't like planes blowing up buildings is not.
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Old 02-10-2004, 04:50 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Thats pretty much how I feel - on the one hand its great real terrorists are not out there - on the other, it gnaws that others may be denied due process
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