Abdussalam Al-Helah: One of the 173 Men Still Imprisoned in Guantanamo

His family reports that Abdussalam Al-Helah, prisoner at the US torture camp at Guantanamo for nine years, told them to forget him and continued, “They are never going to release us.  We have no hope, no trust in anyone except God.”

According to a story in Yemen Times of September 2010 by Shatha Al-Harazi:

“The promise of US president Barack Obama to shut down the prison by January 2011 seems unlikely now, after the US administration announced this week that Yemen is not yet ready to receive more Guantanamo returnees. “This means that even those Yemenis who were cleared for release by a Justice Department-led inter-agency review could face many more months in detention because of the fear of them rejoining Al-Qaeda.”

The incident of the “underwear bomber” of December of 2009, itself fraught with questions and mysteries, but used by the US government in many ways, including the installation late in 2010 of the egregious scans and invasive “pat downs” of US citizens who want to bord airplanes, was the excuse to refuse to allow any of the prisoners at Guantanamo to actually be sent home.

Andy Worthington, the world’s expert on who is and was in the Guantanamo torture camp, says that the Yemenis and indeed all the remaining 173 prisoners have little hope of ever being released unless people in this country and the world work very hard to see that they are.

prisoners_still_held.jpg Prisoners still held in Guantanamo
Worthington said at a talk in New York recently that this is “quilt by nationality.”  But, of course, the US has for a decade now held people who are not proven guilty at all of anything, indeed not even charged with any crime, including US citizens such as Bradley Manning, in unspeakable conditions.

What kind of country does this?  The US claims to be a democracy.  Is this what democracies do?  It is in fact a capitalist empire.  I think no one doubts the capitalist part of that definition, the US is fiercely capitalistic.  As for empire, the fact that the US maintains more than 800 military bases all over the globe would certainly seem to qualify it as an empire.  Actually, this is rather what empires from time immemorial have looked like.

The Geneva Conventions, which are also US law, make it an offense to humiliate prisoners, much less torture them.  They require that prisoners be allowed contact with their families.  The US has clearly violated those provisions of its own and international law.

And what kind of people allow their “democratic” government to imprison and torture people outside of the rule of law?

I for one go on record as resisting this and I urge others to do the same.  Like Ray McGovern, much reported about on this blog, here and here, I want to be on the right side of history in these matters.

If you do also, I urge you to join with others to demand the closure of the prison on Guantanamo and the one at Bagram and the black sites around the world and to set those illegally imprisoned free and to charge and try in real courts any for whom there might be evidence of wrong doing.

The World Can’t Wait is a group working tirelessly to effect these goals.  Their website gives information about how you can join with others in this effort.  Contributions to help fund their work can be made there as well.


One Response to “Abdussalam Al-Helah: One of the 173 Men Still Imprisoned in Guantanamo”

  1. nancy Says:

    Answers to “What kind of country does this?” are suggested in an article by Charles Sullivan that you can read here:

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