Friday, February 04, 2011

Death of a man never tried or judged

An Afghan prisoner held at the United State's prison camp at Guantanamo died this week after exercising -- so says the U.S. military. Awal Gul had been held nearly nine years without a trial. Although no court had ever found that he had committed any crime, he was in the category of prisoner that our government apparently intends to hold forever, without any legal process.

Gul's volunteer U.S. lawyers had this to say about their client's premature death.

Awal Gul passed away on February 1, 2011, from an apparent heart attack, although we have no way of knowing whether the government is telling us the truth. It is ironic that Mr. Gul may have died doing the very thing that many middle-aged Americans so every day: exercising. Among the government's three categories of Guantanamo prisoners—court prosecution, cleared for release, or indefinite detention—I am sorry to say he was in the last category.

Mr. Gul was kind, philosophical, devout, and hopeful to the end, in spite of all that our government has put him through. He was in American custody from December 25, 2001, until now. The government charged that he was a prominent member of the Taliban and its military, but we proved that this is false. Indeed, we have documents from Afghanistan, even a letter from Mullah Omar himself on Taliban letterhead, discussing Mr. Gul's efforts to resign from the Taliban a year or more before 9/11/01. He resigned because he was disgusted by the Taliban's growing penchant for corruption and abuse. Mr. Gul was never an enemy of the United States in any way.

It is shame that the government will finally fly him home not in handcuffs and a hood, but in a casket. It is also a shame that Mr. Gul sat imprisoned for years while the Congress (including Democrats and Republicans), two Presidents (Democratic and Republican), the federal courts, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice failed to show the maturity and leadership necessary to resolve Mr. Gul's case. He deserved better. His family, including his many children and grandchildren, deserved better.

Mr. Gul's enduring hope for Afghanistan, and even the United States forces in Afghanistan, is captured in an Afghan proverb he quoted to us more than once: "You cannot wash blood with blood."

Gul never got to speak for himself. We can at least listen to his lawyers. Their complete statement is here. Guantanamo remains a blot on the world's hopes for the rule of law.


Kay Dennison said...

This is insane. I can't say more without forgettng that I'm a lady. When is this going to end?

Rain said...

It is one of my biggest disappointments with Obama

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