Ten years after Guantánamo Bay detention camp was opened, a former detainee, who now lives in Ireland, has called the camp “a mark on the face of the US in the world”.
Oybek Jabbarov (34) and Shakhrukh Hamiduva were resettled in Ireland in September 2009 as part of an agreement between the Irish and US governments. Prior to their release from the camp these two men were cleared as no longer being a threat. They were among dozens who were cleared but could not return to their home countries due to risk of persecution or ill-treatment.
Jabbarov spent seven years in Guantánamo and in his first interview since his release he spoke to the Irish Times about how his experience marred his view of the United States.
He said, “Before I went to Guantánamo I saw America as a democratic country which respected human rights. I know from my own experience that Guantánamo is a terrible place where people are held without charge and cut off from the world with no rights. People suffer mental torture there. It is hard to believe it is still open a decade later.”
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After President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 he said that the detention center would be shut down within one year.
Currently, 170 men are still being held at Guantánamo. So far, 59 of them have been cleared for release but are unable to return to their homes countries.
Jabbarov said “After all the promises, Guantánamo is still open. It is like a mark on the face of the US in the world.”
Two years on, Jabbarov is still having difficulties reintegrating into any kind of normal life. He said, “There are lots of challenges in adjusting to normal life after spending so many years in a place like that…Guantánamo was a horrible experience. It has changed all of us.”
In October 2001, Jabbarov, his pregnant wife, their infant son and elderly mother were living as refugees in north Afghanistan where the Taliban and Northern Alliance were fighting.
Jabbarov told the Irish Times that he was delivered to the US troops by the Northern Alliance who had offered him a lift after he met them at a roadside teahouse. He believes these men were rewarded for handing him over.
His wife and children have now joined him in Ireland.
Spirasi, an Irish organization which works for the rehabilitation and integration of survivors of torture, is calling on the Irish Government to accept more detainees for resettlement.