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Two Former Bagram Detainees Held Without Charge Describe Torture and Wrongful Imprisonment

StoryNovember 24, 2009
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The Obama administration has promised to begin moving the 700-odd men held in the Bagram prison in Afghanistan into a new $60 million facility by next month. But in a video released by Brave New Films, two men who were held in the notorious detention center ask how much of a difference this will make when it’s unclear why people were arrested in the first place. The two brothers, Abdel and Noor Raqeeb, say they were held without formal charges, tortured, only to be released with an apology for being mistaken for Taliban spokespersons. [includes rush transcript]

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The Obama administration has promised to begin moving the 700-odd men held in the Bagram prison in Afghanistan into a new $60 million facility by next month. But in a video released by Brave New Films today, two men who were held in the notorious detention center ask how much of a difference this will make when it’s unclear why people were arrested in the first place.

Abdel Raqeeb was released this August after being detained for two years and allegedly tortured. Upon his release, he was told he’d been mistaken for a Taliban spokesman. His brother Noor Raqeeb, imprisoned for ten days in 2007, was told he, too, had been picked up on the same mistaken assumption.

The brothers were interviewed by filmmaker Anita Sreedhar last month. This excerpt begins — features both brothers, beginning with Noor Raqeeb.

    NOOR RAQEEB: [translated] They would use cruelty and terror. They would speak with insults. “We have brought you. We will bring your father, your brothers, your tribe. We have brought now. You must speak regardless.” They were scaring us by saying, “You have five minutes. After five minutes, we will take you to the torture chambers.” I would vomit for quite a while. They were facing us with such conditions.

    ABDEL RAQEEB: [translated] If I am guilty, then punish me. If I deserve imprisonment, then imprison me. If not, let me go free. Let me go. I spent two years here in Bagram. Others have been three, six or seven years. And at the end, you tell them that “We made a mistake”? You destroyed people’s homes. I don’t have a house now. I have four children. I had four cows, and they have all been sold. They had nothing to eat. There was nothing at home. They take the people from their house and imprison them. So the people develop this opinion that Americans are terrorists. They have been treated unjustly, so they seek revenge.

AMY GOODMAN: That from Brave New Films, and you can go to our website to learn more about them.

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