Interview with Tina Foster on the Yemeni issue in Guantanamo BayWritten by Feroz Ali Abbasi Tuesday, 10 August 2010
As Guantanamo has slowly been emptied, the Yemenis have remained almost static in terms of their presence thereby making them now the largest single nationality languishing at the detention centre. Cageprisoners interviewed Tina Foster to simply ask why that is and if the situation of the Bagram Yemenis she represents is even comparable.
CAGEPRISONERS: Can you give an overview of the circumstances surrounding the Yemenis in Guantanamo? Is the Yemeni issue important and why?
Tina Foster: I think the issue with the detainees that are being held in the U.S. custody from Yemen is a critical one, both to closing Guantanamo Bay and also in keeping the future of U.S. detention policy because Yemenis now represent and they have for years now represented the highest number of detainees at, being held at Guantanamo Bay even as Barack Obama, in his presidency, gave a promise that he would close Guantanamo Bay. One of the main reasons that promise hasn’t been fulfilled is that there has been no solution to the ongoing stalemate that has occurred between the United States and Yemeni governments on the circumstances of the transfer from U.S. custody to Yemeni custody of Yemeni citizens within U.S. custody. So the question is of closing Guantanamo Bay is dependent on that, and there’s a second question as well.
The second reason that the Yemeni question is so important is because the future of the U.S. foreign terror policy with respect to detention is also going to be guided by whatever agreement the United States reaches with Yemen and similarly situated countries that the United States is targeting, citizens of those countries they either surveillance, detain, interrogate and now most recently, kill extra judicially. That policy has also shaped to a large degree by the negotiations that are ongoing between the United States and Yemen, or the United States and Pakistan, or the United States and Afghanistan, or any country where the United States is going to be holding citizens in its custody; and of course are primarily Arab and Muslim countries, also South Asian. So that, the stalemate between the two countries was a result of, the United States’ faulty justice system in having not taken adequate precautions to ensure that the right people were coming into custody and that innocent people and people who are not committing any wrong against the United States had been taken into custody in the first place. I mean there’s a question of intelligence on the people coming into U.S. custody and a failure of intelligence between the two countries at least, and the second one is once people are in the U.S. through Yemeni custody, how, what kind of process do you put in place to ensure that they’re the correct people going forward, and that you’re holding the correct people and that also you’re complying with international law and basic fundamental standards of fairness and due process to give them, to ensure that their human rights are not violated by indefinite detention or arbitrary detention or prolonged horrible treatment while in custody and of course the whole question of holding them without any further criminal charge, just holding them on suspicion of future dangerousness. These are all questions that have to be resolved between the United States and key countries and Yemen is one of those key countries by virtue of the fact it has so many people already in U.S. custody and now basically the United States is focussing a lot of attention in terms of intelligence gathering in the future. A very long winded answer to sort of set that up.
CP: Do prisoner releases correlate with macroeconomic international relations factors?
TF: I wouldn’t consider myself qualified to answer in terms of global, perspective but I could tell you that, with respect to Yemen in particular. Yemen is one of the least, it’s one of the countries in the world that gets almost no U.S. funding either for infrastructure, humanitarian aid or any other, aid or assistance, and so it’s not just a question of not providing Yemen with let’s say, security or intelligence gathering, capability. It’s also a huge problem in U.S. policy because the fact that the average Yemeni is not in a good economic position and lacks fundamental services such as education, food, shelter, job opportunities, those are things which are contributing to individuals, to become part of certain groups that the United States has deemed to be enemies. So I think the fact, that, the poor socio-economic conditions in the country have led to the fertile ground for recruitment of individuals to join groups that the United States would prefer that they didn’t join.
CP: Talking about the socio-economic background of the Yemenis, the one’s that you represent: do you consider that it would affect whether they’re released or not?
TF: I can tell you from my experience that I have represented individuals from that part of the Yemen, those who had, I would say, that are not necessarily from money, but which had support behind them which allowed them, to either use money or find funds by liquidating assets to fund their defence, and then there are those who have lacked any sort of resources, and by luck of the draw got a lot of attention on their cases for whatever reason. I don’t know if there’s a correlation but I can tell you that there’s, in my case there is. For example, Sheikh (Muhammad Ali) Al-Mu'ayyad, who’s a Yemeni who was transferred from the United States in Germany to U.S. custody in the U.S. pursuant to an extradition treaty that Germany had with the United States. He was one of those clients that had come from a relatively good background and he was a well known philanthropist in Yemen. He had started a foundation that was assisting the poor, in Yemen, to give them bread, and he also opened the first, one of the first mosques in Yemen for women to be able to attend. He would champion Human Rights. This person unfortunately, Sheikh Al-Mu’ayyam, and his assistant, Muhammad Fayad, ended up being targeted by the United States and essentially in the end, blamed by the FBI and CIA and entrapped into having conversations about funding money to charities in Palestine and alleged collections for Iraq, and so the United states lured them to Germany, surveiled him, and then transferred him to the United States under an extradition treaty with Germany. The interesting thing is that the Germans refused to extradite him to U.S. custody unless there was a guarantee that he would not go to Guantanamo. The Germans said, we will only repatriate him to the United States, if the United States makes an assurance that he, the prisoners will not be transferred to Guantanamo or any extra regular detention. They have to be transferred to the regular criminal justice system of the United States. In fact that’s what happened in their case. I can tell you that as an initial matter, they didn’t receive justice in their trial. That trial, the record of that trial was eventually revealed by a court in the United States and was overturned. The convictions were overturned. In the end the Yemeni government stepped in, and assisted in working out a deal where they could be repatriated back to Yemen, and frankly find agreements that plead guilty to very minor charges, and find agreements that they would go back to the United States, after having plead guilty to time served, for the time they already spent in detention in the United States. So these folks I’m happy to say, the last summer, I was on the plane that landed on the tarmac in Sana with Sheikh Muhammad Fayad, and it was quite a happy homecoming. That is a happy story with a happy ending. And I think it has to do with the United States eventually coming round, and the Obama administration coming round to the realisation that we cannot abandon basic American values and justice and normal criminal procedures just for Arabs and Muslims in the post 9/11 era. So that’s one example, that gives you one way of, one side of the coin and that was someone who had resources and who did in fact raise money to help his cause. Well not himself but individuals that were supportive of him, and in Yemen he had many.
The second example that I would give you is of two clients of mine that, there are many clients that I can tell you that are still in Guantanamo, whose families I have met in Yemen, and I can talk later about the source of what’s happening with the families in Yemen just out of interest. But two clients that I represent in Bagram prison, Amin al Bakri and Fadi al Maqaleh, who are two Yemeni citizens, both of whom were rendered from outside of Afghanistan to Bagram against their will, by the United States government, and both of them spent time in U.S. secret or known prison facilities, where torture has been proven to have occurred during the time period when they were there. So we assume that our clients have also been tortured. Amin Al-Bakri for example, was a businessman and father of several small children. He was a trader in jewellery and also he had a shrimp trading business. He was travelling when he was kidnapped basically on his way back to the airport by unidentified agencies, we believe the CIA or other agencies, at the request of the United States, and transferred to secret prisons. He has now spent nine years in U.S. custody without charge. He’s never been charged with a crime. He’s never been given access to an attorney. He’s never been allowed a visit with his family. He’s being held in absolutely horrible conditions, and he remains languishing at Bagram with no legal recourse. Our organisation has championed the cause of Amin Al-Bakri and Fadi al Maqaleh, who’s another one of our clients that has also spent the same amount of time at Bagram unjustifiably. Those folks are all now trying to get U.S. courts to look at their question, the same way U.S. courts decided to look at what was happening at Guantanamo. Unfortunately the Obama administration while it embraced the idea of granting legal rights to detainees at Guantanamo, it did not grant, it basically is defending, now, in court, the Bush administration’s policies ‘right to defend’ or ‘to detain’ Yemenis and other foreign nationals indefinitely at Bagram, indefinitely without charge, under the exact same conditions they have at Guantanamo. So he’s opened a new Guantanamo at Bagram and what the Yemeni government does to get its citizens back from Bagram or Guantanamo is still a question that remains to be answered.
CP: How were they seized and how has that affected their detention?
TF: I probably answered with the Amin Al-Bakri situation. With Fadi al Maqaleh, the U.S. government said that he was captured inside of Afghanistan. Our information shows that he was brought from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where he was detained and brought to U.S. custody in Iraq, from Abu Ghraib to Bagram in Afghanistan. So our information is clearly different from the information that the U.S. government is putting forward. The only way we’re going to be able to answer that question, is to have that, the actual information reviewed by a judge in a neutral court of law. So I hope that we get the opportunity, to do that, with respect to those that are captured inside of Afghanistan versus, those that are captured outside of Afghanistan. The U.S. courts have made a distinction that, those people that are at Bagram, that were captured outside of Afghanistan in a different legal category than those who were rendered there from outside of the borders of the country. We take issue with that because of course; a lot of the individuals that ended up at Guantanamo or Bagram were indeed people that were sold by Pakistani bounty hunters to U.S. forces. They may have been brought over the border by Pakistanis or other groups under unknown circumstances and effectively handed over. So we maintain that there is a need to review, to have an independent court review of any non Afghan individual in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, and moreover until all of the Afghans in U.S. custody in Afghanistan get fair trials and full due process under Afghan laws the United States has an obligation to provide, to provide those protections to Afghan citizens in U.S. custody as well.
CP: In terms of Yemenis in Guantanamo that you represent, do you have any idea how they were seized and how it’s affected their detention and treatment?
TF: Sure, I think there were many Yemenis that were in, their common story was that the Yemenis in Guantanamo were either in, a wide range of stories but basically anyone with an Arab or, a Yemeni would clearly be a candidate for bounty hunters in Pakistan to pick up, whether or not he was involved in those sorts of various activities, because, if you have an Arab in Afghanistan or Pakistan basically you can sell them to the U.S. government for a bounty and say we have information that this person is Al Qaeda. You get your money and the U.S. government has an interest on, of course the U.S. military is going to be on the side of taking anyone in who might be suspicious, regardless of whether that intelligence is valid, and you see what happens afterwards, the lack of judicial processes, creating a situation where that individual may find no evidence or simply sit there and rot in prison. There’s obviously a huge problem here in the way that people are coming into U.S. custody, and this definitely results in, the bad results of having lots of innocent people that are mistakenly taken into custody, and staying in custody for far too long.
CP:The Yemenis that you are representing and have represented, what are they accused of, what do they admit to and in what conditions, and how does that affect the validity of the assertions made concerning them?
TF: The Yemenis that I represent are, are you asking about the Bagram folk?
CP: Bagram and Guantanamo.
TF: Well I think with respect to Guantanamo, there have been a lot of allegations from no more than association, or knowing somebody who might have been on the United States’ list of people who it suspected of terrorism. So, an allegation promoting guilt by association; ‘you met so and so’ or ‘ so and so’ ‘there’s evidence that someone has accused you’ so these are the types of allegations that have been made against individuals at Guantanamo, and we see of course, not in many cases opposing, not allowing that to form a legal justification for holding somebody. Many individuals have also made coerced statements, detainees have said in their proceedings in Guantanamo, during interrogations, during harsh interrogations, during tortured interrogations, that they, were involved in some sort of military activity, and of course that evidence is tainted. And we know that evidence obtained under such circumstances is clearly not reliable. All the research supports throwing that kind of evidence out, totally unreliable, not to mention, unjust and morally reprehensible. The question is do we have the right people. I think the circumstances in which that information is taken, ought to be considered in looking at whether or not that that’s accurate information and whether it’s a form against holding somebody.
With respect to our client at Bagram, they haven’t been accused of anything. Neither Fadi al Maqaleh or Amin Al-Bakri or Yemeni clients held in Bagram, have not been given any formal charges. They’ve not been allowed to see the evidence that supposedly forms the case for holding them for the past nine years. We as their attorneys have not been allowed to meet with them; we have not been allowed to correspond with them as attorneys. So, they’re being held virtually incommunicado. They’re unable to get any assistance from their lawyers. They know that they have lawyers because, occasionally they’re allowed telephone calls to family, and they know from family that they’re our clients, and they have requested numerous times to meet with their attorneys. They’ve mentioned us by name and they’ve never been allowed to do that. You know I would like to be able to tell you what my clients are being charged with, but I’m unable to because the United States government has not yet even disclosed why they believe that our clients should be held for all this time.
CP: Under the law, what should their treatment be, and how does this compare to how they are actually treated?
TF: Well first of all the law requires, the law of any civilised nation requires that you give somebody due process before you lock them up for ten years, and torture, hopefully you don’t torture them at all! But in this case, I mean, it’s particularly egregious that there was an administration that was torturing people, that the Obama administration now continues to cover that up because it’s not allowing individuals, who are the subject of actions, which this administration agrees is illegal, they’re not allowing those cases to be tried in open court in a way that the American public and the American judiciary will be able to see and hold those to account and have justice served. Everyone can agree that, the transparency issue is extremely important and I think the question of not allowing these individuals to have a fair and open hearing in regular courts of law, either in the United States, or in their home countries or in any country, they’re being denied access to any courts, not just American courts, and I think that’s the fundamental problem with this. And the second problem is their treatment is not compliant with international law because they’re not being treated with either the compliance of the Geneva Conventions that would apply to the detainment of civilians or prisoners of war, during times of international armed conflict. They’re not complying with international human rights law, which applies during times whether or not there’s international armed conflict going on. You know, so you can’t hold people in such circumstances indefinitely, arbitrarily, and without charge. In terms of treatment of the prisoners at Guantanamo and Bagram, I can say that, there are still prolonged solitary, there’s still very bad prolonged solitary confinement and isolation, which is more psychologically damaging for people, and permanently damaging, than physical beating. The most severe types of torture are often no-touch torture, things that don’t leave scars but leave permanent emotional, psychological, and physical damage to the person, and I think a lot of those things are still going on even though the pictures, even if the pictures that we saw in Abu Ghraib, those might not be typical occurrences of every day anymore, but I think the no-touch torture techniques which are adapted are far more damaging, and they remain, prevalent in Bagram and other places in which the United States is holding people.
CP: How has incarceration affected the Yemenis, and how does this influence the arguments for and against release?
TF: Many individuals who have been held in Guantanamo and held in Bagram have psychological problems. I thank God that, we don’t believe that that is the case with our clients at Bagram, Fadi al Maqaleh and Amin Al-Bakri, who we thank God that, they don’t appear to be suffering any sort of mental illness as a result of being in Bagram. But I think recently we know from limited contact their families have had that for other Yemenis that are at Guantanamo, many many of them, we know, are reporting to their families, or their families are independently reporting these things from letters that they’ve got. They seem to be in extreme emotional distress and are mentally decompensating in many ways. Many of them also have physical injuries as a result of having been at Guantanamo, but I think the thing that is most disturbing is the level of mental deterioration in many of these individuals. It’s not that they’ve become violent, it’s that they’ve become, they’re just sort of stressed, depressed, withdrawn, many of them have post traumatic stress disorder, so what, I don’t think it should be a criteria, it shouldn’t give anyone worry about that we would be with these things somehow, mentally disturbed people who are going to go do something scary I mean. I don’t think that’s the worry but. We should be concerned with sending people back to Yemen, who have no infrastructure and no support services and who are not being provided with and compensation for themselves and for their families, for what they have endured, despite the fact that many of them have now been cleared or acquitted and exonerated of these charges, if you can call them that, against them by the United States. So, the U.S is sending people back after having suffered all of these horrible atrocities and then having been, having total decompensation and not providing them with any means to get back on their feet. The international justice network is working with our sister organisation in Yemen, the HOOD association, which is the Yemeni national association for defending rights and freedom. Our colleagues there, as well as several volunteers are working with us to put together a taskforce that is going to allow the Yemenis, the detainees and their families in Yemen, to say what kind of services are most greatly needed and we’re going to try to meet those needs if we can with additional resources from people all over the world who are absolutely horrified by what has been done to these people. They have been victimised, and they deserve, they deserve compensation. They deserve to be made whole, but beyond that they also deserve, it’s in everyone’s best interest that people that are returning from Guantanamo, from detention, that there’s a reintegration process that allows them jobs, opportunity, training, that allows those that are mentally decompensated to have access to healthcare services and things which would ensure the future of Yemeni society being one where people are not left in such dire economic situations, where they can become future prey for entities that the United States fear to come and recruit them from Yemen. So in the situation of the Yemeni detainees returning from Guantanamo, it’s important that we begin to look at the types of services that are going to be needed to be made available and the types of resources that are going to be needed in order to really address the entire problem with closing Guantanamo.
CP: Comparing the Yemenis to other national if possible in Guantanamo Bay and if possible in Bagram, why are the Yemenis the majority of nationals left in Guantanamo and does their situation differ from that of other nationals that have been released?
TF: One thing you can say, that detainees that were from European countries were the earliest to be returned. I think the detainees from countries with less economic power or less political bargaining power with the United States were the last to be returned. Let me give you a clear example of that; Saudi Arabia being the exception to the rule that Arab and Muslim countries, their detainees are being repatriated last. I think Saudis were, they have enough bargaining power with the United States, that they were able to get most of their folks back through a reintegration programme that they established in Saudi Arabia, and the United States was willing to repatriate them. I think that this is the problem with the Yemenis because there’s no bargaining power there. If the Yemenis want to influence the, and I think the Yemeni government does want to repatriate it’s detainees, I don’t think they have much power to do so against the United States if you compare them to other countries.
CP: Comparing Yemenis amongst themselves, why have the Yemenis that have been released, been released, and what differentiates them from the ones that are still remaining?
TF: That’s a question that really boggles my mind because people who have been released have are accused of things that sound much more severe than any of the people who are still sitting in Guantanamo or our clients at Bagram who haven’t been accused of anything. It’s really just blind in some way that seems very trivial, and I think it’s odd to notice that there doesn’t seem to be that much correlation, at least that I’ve been able to determine. Someone else might be able to tell you another pattern but I for one don’t really see a pattern correlating with alleged conduct and repatriation.
CP: Comparing Bush to Obama, are there any differences between Bush and Obama, and do these make a difference to Yemeni prisoners both in Guantanamo and Bagram?
TF: There’s no difference between Obama and Bush. When it comes to Bagram, Obama is actually championing Bush’s cause to, by, Bagram is Obama’s Guantanamo. The only difference is that Obama has decided that Guantanamo is no longer the correct location for the Guantanamo detainees and for those that are, in the future going to be in the U.S. custody. His legal, preferred legal black holes would now be in the United States and, abroad in places like Bagram. So you see the same policies in Obama as Bush. The only difference is geographic location of Guantanamo. We’ve imported the actual policies into the United States and exported them to every other military base in the world, where the United States would like to detain people in the future. Unfortunately I don’t have a happy answer to that question. It’s quite grim but, Obama has continued with these policies. One challenge of course, is getting the American people to wake up and realise that this is going on and getting them to be outraged by the fact that Obama was elected on a mandate to change those policies of the Bush administration and has not done so.
CP: Have any political incidents outside the Yemeni prisoner’s involvement changed the official narrative concerning their freedom?
TF: I don’t understand, sorry.
CP: Has anything happened that has influenced whether they are released or not? That hasn’t had a direct effect on the Yemenis?
TF: The Christmas Bomber and things like that right? Of course there’s external circumstances which have put the Yemeni government and the U.S. government in the hot seat about anything that is done with respect returning the Yemenis to Yemen because, it’s a false connection but one that is made in the media a lot, by primarily by the U.S. government, that somehow insecurity in Yemen is what led to this Christmas Bomber, Abdul Talib to, that failed plot to materialise, that’s what allowed it. And I think that’s entirely wrong in that particular instance. And moreover with respect to the bigger question of that, I think that there is a correlation but I think that the correlation is one that is opposite from the one that you see going on here and I think what needs to happen, is the U.S. and Yemeni governments need to sit down and say, listen we all have an interest in ensuring that people that want to blow up innocent civilians are not permitted to do so, whether they be Yemeni or American or whomever, and we want to ensure that there is fair, appropriate intelligence gathering that needs to be done. And we’re also at the same time, people will buy into this, accept this, because we’re going to accept a certain level of transparency that will make this legitimate, that we’ll give people trials. We will work together to do this. But unfortunately the talk must be going the other way because it doesn’t seem to be moving any closer to a resolution.
CP: What are the internal procedural mechanisms both in the U.S., Yemen and elsewhere that impact prisoner releases or continual confinements such as CSRT, International Law, ARBs, US Courts etc?
TF: The international justice network recently returned from the United Nations in Geneva where we petitioned the U.N. Special rapporteurs, I think there were five or six of them, these are international experts on torture, on the detention, on indefinite detention, on extrajudicial killings, on all of the things that, to ask them to focus some attention on the broader question of detention by United States in the War on Terror and not just at Guantanamo. So we asked them to take a look, to undertake an investigation at Bagram and we also had a vote, the U.N. Human Rights’ Council’s jurisdiction to investigate certain complaints on behalf of our client. We have I think, exhausted many possibilities in the United States for litigation and so I think we’re left with trying to go on an international venue. We’re also working in the U.S. right now, I should just give you a quick update, the legal status of the Guantanamo detainees, many of them have had habeas corpus proceedings and have been, and many of them are awaiting their habeas corpus proceedings in the U.S. courts and presumably they should be returned, if and when a court finds that they’re guilty enough to hold them. Of course that will be determined by, whether or not that happens will be determined more as a function of whether there’s a political repatriation agreement between the United States and Yemen. I think the Realpolitik is more important here than any probably international or domestic tribunal’s position.
CP: So in your opinion does the rule of law offer an effective remedy in the Yemeni prisoners’ cases and why?
TF: I think it does for the reasons that I’ve said. I think that it will, if we have the rule of law and people on the back end are given an opportunity to present evidence and the government has to meet it’s burden to put forth evidence about why they have indeed captured somebody who is being, who is a dangerous threat to the United States, that will assist in ensuring that more evidence is collected at the time of capture, that evidence is corroborated before people are taken into prisons, so that we don’t create, entire communities of people who are outraged by the fact that their innocent brother who had nothing to do with anything ended up at Guantanamo for nine years. Everyone’s mad at the United States in that community and rightfully so, they have a point. I think that’s a big problem that the United States has created and I think the due process issue is at the heart of ensuring that the right people are being detained, and normally those people, and when we do detain people, we act lawfully and legally and not disregard the rule of law such that we give our enemies legitimate reasons to object to our way of life. I think it’s really important that we stick to our core values in order to be on the side of law, order and justice in the ongoing conflict against terrorist organisations and terrorism. Otherwise we lose the fundamental core values that we’re supposedly fighting for.
CP: Who are the stakeholders in the matter of the Yemenis and in what scenarios do they gain or lose?
TF: I mean I think in the scenario, the stakeholders are clearly those detained. Those are the ones that are most affected by this policy and I think the United States government also has it’s own legitimate interests in ensuring that people that have committed crimes within the United States jurisdiction against United States law are prosecuted for those crimes. That’s not the case with many of the, most of the people at Guantanamo and other illegal detention sites, but I think those are and I think there’s the larger issue of the entire world having a stake in, what’s the future of international law and how is that shaped and do you want to live in a world where a nation is, under the guise of self defence or with the supposed justification of self defence, can simply kidnap and render people outside of any rule of any law, lock them away in prison, torture them, extra judicially kill them in the middle of the night and is that a world in which you and I and everyone else wants to live in. Or do we want to live in a world where people have basic fundamental rights to due process and we all obey certain elements of the rule of law. And I think that in that sense the stakeholders are all of us ultimately.
CP: Is there any historic precedence for the Yemenis situation both in Guantanamo and Bagram?
TF: I think, in some ways there’s no historical precedence for the United States sort of declaring war against a amorphous enemy that’s, not well defined even by the United States, and taking people from one country to another, other foreign citizens, and arbitrarily taking them to either Bagram or Guantanamo, or whatever location and locking them away without a purely legal justification. That I think is really unprecedented. I think the U.S., it’s a dangerous time for them in a historical context of , the United States’ actions in which it’s double factor was, national security threat, the internment of the Japanese during World War II, I think , is a pretty good parallel of when the United States acted outside of it’s core values, and in reaction to fear mongering and over reacting, and ended up causing a lot of severe human rights’ abuses, and undermining core values. So I think there is precedence and unfortunately there is precedence in the United States’ history, of our nation’s engaging in such blatant disregard of human rights. I think, if you, you can probably find it in the history of a lot of countries, and so the question is what are we going to do in the future and that, really needs to be shaped be a dialogue, that the United States is going to have to bring other countries who, because we’re in a world where the U.S. cannot continue to rely on ‘might makes right’ as justification for its foreign policy.
CP: Does the media influence the U.S. government’s decision concerning the Yemenis? Or there is no influence from the media? Does congress or any senators or so forth, and their campaigns, influence the U.S. government’s decision or change it, or it doesn’t in that regard?
TF: I think it does, both the media in the U.S., the media can affect, obviously U.S. voters and therefore, to have an affect on U.S. government policy. I think obviously congress can have an affect on this question and probably, we’ll need to, visit the Supreme Court, ultimately we’re headed to the Supreme Court, on the Bagram issue on behalf of Fadi al Maqaleh and Amin Al-Bakri. But if there’s no justice then of course Congress should act to end these practices. I think the fundamental question is how can we most effectively do that and influence those changes. I think the work of change, prisoners and other organisations who have highlighted these types of abuses, it’s extremely important, because without people knowing about what’s happening, it’s impossible to get them to do anything about it, and people do need to act toward this really horrible chapter of U.S. history and, there’s complicity with a lot of other governments. But because I joined with a U.S. based organisation I find it most appropriate to hold our own government accountable and I leave other governments to, other countries.
CP: Taking all of it into consideration, what is the best course of action for the resolution of the Yemeni issue and to what outcome should those efforts be directed?
TF: I think we need to focus on what the agreement, in terms of repatriation, between Yemen and the United States, and I think there needs to be some very practical solutions put forward by those of us that are stakeholders in this process, that need to be involved. I think the families of these individuals and governments and members of civil society all need to think about exactly what kind of services are needed to ensure that people who are sent back to Yemen, are able to make their lives whole and are not subjected to future injustices as a result of having been in United States’ custody. I think also the United States can get out of this the reassurance that people are going to have lives to go back to, so obviously there’s going to be less of motivation to take up any sort of cause against the United States. That people have lives to go back to, and livelihoods, and they’re able to get on with their lives, they’re not going to be prey to other elements that might otherwise be the case. So I think that should really be the focus of what everyone’s focussed on right now. All the stakeholders I think have the same interest, which is to put this ugly chapter behind us, have people go back home, be returned, be safe, get on with their lives and begin the process of healing.
Transcribed by Mrs Anwar, Naimah and Asma, Cageprisoners' volunteers.
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- Habeas corpus
- Supreme Court
- Human Rights
- Yemenis in Guantanamo
- Unites States
- Fadi al Maqaleh
- Amin AlBakri
- Due process
- International Law
- Christmas Bomber
- International Justice Network
- Saudi Arabia
- Armed Conflict
- Abu Ghraib
- Tina Foster
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