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Dilawar Story – Revealing Guantanamo Bay

Electric shock treatment at Bagram base in Afghanistan.
Electric shock treatment at Bagram base in Afghanistan.

“This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while” remarked George W Bush in his famous post 9/11 address at the South Lawn of the White House.

This “While” has taken more than a decade in Afghanistan before concluding, with bloodshed and alarming human rights violations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The stories of being homeless through aerial bombardment or the stories of one losing a father, a brother, a mother, sometimes a whole family and sometimes an entire clan are too many for a heart to bear. This war by the west supported by the governments in Pakistan has not been a war on terrorism but it has brought terror in Afghanistan.

I was looking up for the stories of stories of inhuman torture by the American army in Afghanistan during the infamous ‘War On Terror’. And as I went about the dawn of my research, there were too many I realised, some reported and some invented. But there are so many unclassified and unknown cases of torture and custodial deaths at the hands of the American or the Allied army that one starts supporting the fight against the US led invasion in Afghanistan. You will read the story of Dilawar (surname disclosed nowhere) which I found in the classified documents and later went on to look upto his documentary made by BBC. This is one story alongside thousands other that are untold.

Sexual torture by female army cadets at guatanamo bay.
Sexual torture by female army cadets at guatanamo bay.

Dilawar, a 22-year-old taxi driver from the poverty-stricken village of Yakubi in eastern Afghanistan, was deatained by US military forces at Bagram Air Base in December 2002. Dilawar and three of his passengers were captured by the Northern Alliance who falsely accused the men of firing rockets at the Camp Salerno military base.

Five days after being handed over to American forces, Dilawar was dead, killed by US Army interrogators who shackled him to the ceiling by his wrists and subjected him to sleep deprivation and savage beatings for hours on end. The initial official military report claimed that Dilawar had died of “natural causes”. A subsequent autopsy revealed, however, that his legs had been reduced a pulp and that even if he had survived, it would have been necessary to amputate them.

After Dilawar’s death, his three passengers were sent to Guantánamo and held there without charge for 15 months until March 2004, when they were released and returned to Afghanistan with letters stating that they posed “no threat” to US forces. A subsequent inquiry revealed that a local Northern Alliance commander perpetrated the rocket attack on Camp Salerno in order to secure ongoing American support.

US forces have detained over 83,000 people since the “war on terror” began, with 93 % of those detained in Afghanistan captured by local military in exchange for US bounty payments. So far, 105 prisoners have died in captivity, with 37 of these officially classified as homicides. The illegal methods of torture at Bagram were applied at the Guantánamo Bay internment camp and then Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Captain Carolyn Wood, the officer in charge of interrogations at the Bagram base where Dilawar was murdered, was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and, after the US invasion of Iraq, dispatched to help establish the brutal regime at Abu Ghraib. US president should have an unlimited right to authorise torture and other measures and why prisoners captured in the “war on terror” have been deprived of their human rights and legal protection under the Geneva Conventions.

Torture Guantanamo Bay
Torture Guantanamo Bay

Republican Senator John McCain and Democrat Senator Carl Levin are shown in Taxi to the Dark Side challenging Alberto Gonzales at Senate hearings as the former US attorney general attempts to justify the use of torture. But the opposition of McCain and Levin to torture is not based in any principled opposition to human rights violation or violation of Geneva conventions.  They have argued that torture leads to “faulty” intelligence and weakens or discredits the war on terror. In fact, McCain publicly supported President Bush’s veto of a bill that would have prohibited the CIA from using cruel, inhuman techniques, including water-boarding, during custody.

Nor does Gibney make any accounting of the fact that since 9/11 the Democrats have uncritically embraced the so-called “war on terror” and endorsed laws establishing the legal and political framework within which torture and rendition now occurs. This includes the Patriot and Military Commission Acts, the illegal Guantánamo Bay incarcerations as well as ongoing funding for the illegal occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

This widespread demolition of the Geneva conventions and brutal rattling of the human rights has been the dark face of ‘war on terror’.

– Sachin Sengar (Chief Editor Backroom Defiance, Contact – sengarsachin0@gmail.com)