In the Name of Allah Most Compassionate Most Merciful
I knew them personally, so I can judge well their frame of mind. Their iman (belief in God) was very strong, there was high morale and it comes as a complete shock to my system when it is said to me that they could have committed suicide.
I was with them for a long period of time, and it never even came into our mind the thought of committing suicide. We were always far too busy constructing some form of hunger strike or non-cooperation strike, to even register the thought of suicide. It is quite simply ridiculous. When we were not in isolation for our continued protests we were in the regular blocks planning our next move.
We were always on level 4 which consisted of a mat and a blanket only. We did not have toilet paper; let alone a pen and paper to write a suicide note! As for the world’s experience of the Bush administration, its lies and propaganda and my personal experiences at Guantanamo alongside these men, I am very dubious of the reasons given of the deaths of these men.
The very thought of three suicides in one go, so-called suicides in one go; it brings about suspicion that there was foul play definitely involved. This was the only way the Americans could cover up the reality, by claiming that it was suicide.
Consider again that these men, they have been on hunger strike for months and months on end and as a result they were extremely fragile and weak. When you then also think about the ERF, and being attacked by the ERF team which consists of five guards who are dressed in full riot gear with the plastic shields, pepper spray and dogs, then the rests the high risk of being hurt once the attack begins.
I, myself, was hurt by the ERF team and was knocked unconscious. They smash your head on the floor, they poke their fingers in your eyes, in your ears and then place you in a headlock, arm lock and your beard is shaved. So if they do all of this while you are on hunger strike, then that can result in disastrous consequences.
My analysis of the situation is that this time the ERF team went too far and they either died accidentally, or intentionally killed them, this is the only reasonable explanation.
With regard to the possibility of this having taken place in isolation, then this action was done in Camp I, and in Camp I there is only one isolation block, that being India. This isolation block consists of 24 cells, and it is made up in such a way that it is impossible to hang anything, let alone even the wildest of thoughts that you could hang yourself. You could probably just about thread a piece of string through the mesh. So in terms of the isolation block in Camp I, it is impossible for them to have hung themselves there.
If you are talking about the regular blocks, I have actually witnessed people hanging myself. When you see a person hanging, then everyone begins to scream and shout and bang on the metal to call for assistance. Basically, the other inmates will always raise an alarm, the guards come rushing, they open the door and they let the guy down. Whoever it is, they will never be hanging for longer than 30 or 40 seconds. For the hanging to go unnoticed, then that is impossible, let alone to be possible for three of them.
These guys, they were not the kind of people to commit suicide. They came from wealthy backgrounds; one of them was due to be released. Yasser al-Zahrani, he was a person who had memorised the entire Qur’an. He had participated in all the hunger strikes and non-cooperation strikes; he had so much determination, will-power and morale that it is ridiculous to think he could have taken his own life.
I cannot actually remember the first time I met them, but we spent a lot of time with one another. The reason for this was that there were always a certain number of people who were on punishment due to the protests that were organised. As I mentioned before the non-cooperation strikes which would include not speaking in interrogation and also not standing for any immoral behaviour (such as being sexually harassed or watching the Qur’an being desecrated) would result in punishment.
We were always on the forefront of the protests, and the two Saudi guys, Yasser al-Zahrani and Manei al-Otaibi would be the first amongst all others to stand up for our rights and the rights of others.
Yasser al-Zahrani was a beautiful brother; he was 5’8’’, had long hair (before it was shaved off), was softly spoken and had a very nice voice. He used to sing nasheeds for us (Islamic songs) and all the brothers loved him as he was always optimistic. He would sing morale boosting nasheeds for the other detainees nearby to him. He was very well known to everyone in the camp.
He ended up doing a lot of time in isolation simply due to the fact that he would never allow for an injustice to take place before him without being defiant for the sake of our rights. I am sure that as more time passes and more people are released and asked about this situation, the truth will avail, and the world will understand that he was a nice guy and that he could never have committed suicide.
As for Manei, he was also another beautiful brother. He had a slim build and was extremely funny. He used to recite poetry, in fact this was the thing he was best known for and he also used to sing nasheeds for us. He was beautifully funny guy, and he was always on the forefront of trying to get our rights.
I stayed beside Manei for three weeks inside the regular blocks, and that is when he told me about his wealthy family and his previous life and how he used to get up to no good as people do when they are young. It was also during those three weeks that he taught me tajweed (the science of reciting the Qur’an correctly). By the end of that time we had shared with one another our inner most thoughts.
I consider it an insult and I am sure that family find it equally offensive, to suggest that he would stoop to the level of taking his own life.
Thankfully, a lot of respectable people in the media have played certain comments down, especially in light of the whole world asking for Guantanamo Bay to be shut down. For them to come up with a statement suggesting that they were ‘creative’ or that this was a form of ‘asymmetric warfare’ is horrendous, it is not even logical. The guys were in cages, they were desperate, they had been tortured, he still had everything to live for, so why would he go and do such a thing?
Hunger strikes and non-cooperation strikes were the PR stunts (if that is how they want to refer to them) but to commit suicide - that is impossible. This Commander, I’m sure he doesn’t live in Guantanamo. I would be surprised if he has spent even any significant time in the camps.
The whole thing is a cover up, they are lost for words and so they are saying it is a PR stunt.