The US Must Make Things Right for Omar Abdulayev

Omar Abdulayev had come to Afghanistan in 1992 with his family when he was thirteen years old, refugees from Tajikistan. He lived in a refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan in November 2001 when he was seized by agents of the ISI [“intelligence” service] of Pakistan in a bazaar.  He could not pay the bribe demanded of him, so the ISI agents put him in prison and, according to him, made him copy down information in notebooks that would be used to justify his imprisonment as a terrorist.  There was a lot of US money around for ISI agents who captured “terrorists” at that time.  He was turned over to the the US and ended up in Guantanamo.

Omar Abdulayev

Aside from the accusation that Omar Abdulayev was captured with the notebooks, he is accused of being a Muslim from a Russian backed place basically and for having studied with the Taliban and for living in a refugee camp where suicide bombers were trained.  As usual, there is nothing to substantiate that these things are true, but the allegations are still ridiculous.

This is like alleging that I live in a country that tortures people and trains people at the US Air Force Academy and elsewhere to bomb innocent civilians from unmanned drones, so I deserve to be locked up in prison and tortured without any trial that would prove beyond a doubt that I personally have participated in any aggression on anyone.

In an odd, to me, twist, the US department of justice in June of 2009 (thus under the Obama regime) announced that it would no longer try to classify Omar Abdulayev as an enemy combatant.  That sounds like good news, but it is not the same thing as having a writ of habeas corpus that declares that there is no legal right at all to hold a person in prison.  Omar Abdulayev had hoped to be exonerated in that way, as he should be.

Also, the US department of justice wanted to send  him back to Tajikistan, from which he and his family had sought refuge when he was a child.  He feared to return there, especially since his father had died trying to return to that country in 1994 and that his whole family has disappeared from Pakistan since he was captured in 2001.  You can read more about Omar Abdulayev on Andy Worthington’s site here.

A real problem with many of these prisoners is that the US itself, which is responsible by dint of having imprisoned them all these years, will not take responsibility for those who are now without resources.  If I were snatched out of my home and imprisoned for a decade, could I just waltz back here?  I don’t live in a war torn country, but I would still confront enormous real problems.  If I had been incommunicado for a decade, would anyone be waiting for me?  My apartment would certainly not be waiting for me.  My family and friends might or might not be where they were when I was captured.  Even if they were, ten years of torture and abuse would certainly have left me different.  If it were added, say, that the US had been invaded and was now occupied by a regime hostile to people like me, I don’t know where my loved ones are or if they are alive, and people are suspicious of anyone who was not completely exonerated, my future would not necessarily be good here.

Many legal experts say that the US should assure a place in the US for these prisoners.  It is responsible, but it refuses to take that responsibility.  This is yet another aspect of the cruel and inhuman treatment of real people by the US.

I demand that Omar Abdulayev be declared exonerated of any guilt or suspicion and that he be helped to go to a place of his choice and where he can begin his life again in safety and peace and with the resources he needs to do that.  This is the least the US can do for him.

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