Guantanamo rife with systematic torture, discrimination against Muslims: Ex-detainee


The physical and psychological torture of inmates was a common practice at the US Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, said a former Yemeni detainee who spent 15 years there due to his name being similar to that of a terrorist suspect. 

Speaking to Anadolu, Mansoor Adayfi highlighted how the US spy agency CIA used unreliable information from local informants to transport people from Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen as well as other countries to Guantanamo.

Recalling his experiences, he said there are around 800 detainees in Guantanamo, with the oldest being 105 years old, and the US dressed the prisoners in orange jumpsuits symbolic of the fight against terrorism.

Adayfi underscored that the US deliberately designed Guantanamo prison to evade legal restrictions, saying the US denies any wrongdoing concerning the facility.

“Guantanamo has a bigger goal. It turned out to be a military lab for experimenting on prisoners. At the same time, (then-US President) George W. Bush and his administration invaded Afghanistan and announced the war on terror. They needed to show some results, so they brought people in orange jumpsuits and shipped them to Guantanamo as the worst of the worst. The only prisoners who are there are Muslims,” he said.

Institutionalized form of anti-Muslim sentiment

Emphasizing that Guantanamo represents a standardized form of anti-Muslim sentiment, Adayfi said guards provoked inmates through insults and disrespect towards Islam and its sacred values.

He said that following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the US attempted to cover up its foreign policy failures by stoking anti-Muslim sentiment, adding that inmates feared reporting the increased instances of discrimination against Muslims at Guantanamo.

Following Sept. 11, Western countries and some Arab nations handed over dissidents and activists labelled as terrorists to the US, he said.

He said that during that time, the US kidnapped and imprisoned people without trial.

Adayfi said discrimination and hate were minor offences at Guantanamo. After being tortured, prisoners were dragged through corridors covered in blood. During interrogations, he said dozens of people died, and no one raised their voice.

Lab for experimenting on prisoners

Adayfi highlighted the increasing intensity of torture inflicted on prisoners supervised by experts, consultants and psychologists.

The psychologists were present to observe prisoners’ reactions while being tortured and to suggest new methods, he said.

“As I told you, that place was created for experimenting; a lab we as prisoners were just subjected to.”

Adayfi described how the mental and physical health of the detainees deteriorated due to the guards systematically torturing prisoners all day, and not just in interrogation rooms. Soldiers would bang on cell doors and guards disrespected the Quran by placing it under prisoners’ feet to provoke a reaction.

The US extended its torture methods from Guantanamo to other countries’ prisons like Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

Adayfi emphasized that the facility has been functioning for nearly 22 years and that every US government has pledged but failed to commit to close the prison, and that unless human rights organizations and the international community put pressure, Guantanamo will remain open.

World’s worst prison

The prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was established due to the US “global war on terror” policy initiated after the 2001 attacks.

Under the guise of the war on terror, American intelligence agencies apprehended individuals, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, alleging ties to terrorism. To prevent detainees from benefiting from US judicial rights, the administration of then-US President George W. Bush created interrogation cells and prisons beyond the jurisdiction of the American legal system.

The Bush administration established Guantanamo prison on Jan, 11, 2002 near Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The prison became known for unlawful torture methods, wrongful detentions and extrajudicial killings and later evolved to house all terrorism suspects.

The public has sparingly shared images of everyday life at Guantanamo. The status of suspects dressed in orange attire and black hoods became central to discussions surrounding Guantanamo.

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