Today’s Guardian has more evidence against the US on its use of torture by proxy in a secret network of ghost prisons in allied countries – in the form of a sickening account from someone who has experienced the system firsthand. Benyam Mohammed, a British resident who grew up in London, is currently being held as an “enemy combatant” in Guantanamo Bay. Before that, he was held for two and a half years, during which time he was shuttled between prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan. Despite the US being a party to the Geneva Conventions, the Red Cross was never informed of his capture. To all effects and purposes, he had disappeared, become an unperson to which anyone could do anything – and so they did. Benyam was systematically tortured – in Pakistan, by beating, hanging, and being threatened with a firearm; and in Morocco by beating, burning with acid, and having his chest and genitals sliced with a scalpel:
They cut off my clothes with some kind of doctor’s scalpel. I was naked. I tried to put on a brave face. But maybe I was going to be raped. Maybe they’d electrocute me. Maybe castrate me.
They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Maybe an inch. At first I just screamed … I was just shocked, I wasn’t expecting … Then they cut my left chest. This time I didn’t want to scream because I knew it was coming.
One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. “I told you I was going to teach you who’s the man,” [one] eventually said.
They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists.
Faced with treatment like this, Benyam unsurprisingly told his torturers whatever he thought they wanted to hear, and admitted participating in whatever they accused him of. Not that that helped, of couse. According to one of his guards, the torture was
“…just to degrade you. So when you leave here, you’ll have these scars and you’ll never forget. So you’ll always fear doing anything but what the US wants.”
This is how Bush’s America is “defending western values”: by violating them in the most fundamental way. While the actual torture was conducted by Pakistanis and Moroccans, it was clearly done at the behest of the Americans, who shuttled him between prisons and dictated the line of questioning. The US is responsible for this, and it is my dearest hope that when that country eventually regains its sanity and rejoins the civilised world, the people who arranged for Benyam Mohammed to be tortured and brutalised for two and a half years will face justice for their crimes.
No Right Turn – New Zealand’s liberal blog