Closing Remarks at Protest by Leili Kashani, Advocacy Program Manager, Center for Constitutional Rights
Almost exactly four months ago today, a young Yemeni man cruelly detained for more than ten years without any charge died at Guantánamo. His name was Adnan Latif, and he should clearly never have been imprisoned in the first place. While there has been no independent investigation into the cause of his death, it is clear that Guantánamo killed him. And it is clear that Guantánamo will extinguish more lives if President Obama does not rectify his broken promise to shut it down.
Today I want to honor Adnan’s life by reading a piece of a poem he wrote while trapped at Guantánamo. But before I do so, I want to also tell you about one of CCR’s clients, Mohammed al-Hamiri, who is Adnan’s close friend and countryman, and who remains imprisoned at Guantánamo through a similar cruel twist of fate.
Both Mohammed and Adnan suffered grave injuries as children that left them with cranial fractures and severe chronic pain. Both Mohammed and Adnan left their countries seeking affordable medical care, and both Mohammed and Adnan were arrested by Pakistani police and turned over to the United States for bounty. Mohammed was just 19 or 20 years old when he was sent to Guantánamo over a decade ago, and like Adnan, he has been cleared for release by the Obama administration.
But will Mohammed, unlike Adnan, be released before it’s too late? Will there be justice for the 166 men who are languishing at Guantánamo? Will President Obama end the collective punishment of Adnan’s nearly 90 compatriots there by lifting his politically expedient but morally bankrupt ban on all transfers to Yemen?… I think the answer resides in us, in each of you. We know that power concedes nothing without a demand, so it is up to us to press on, to not give up, and to together make Guantánamo, unjust detentions, and U.S belligerence more broadly a thing of the past.
With that, here’s a section of Adnan Latif’s poem, titled: "Hunger Strike Poem”:
“They are artists of torture,
They are artists of pain and fatigue,
They are artists of insults and humiliation.…They do not spare the elderly,They do not spare the baby-toothed child.
They leave us in prison for years, uncharged,
Because we are Muslims.
Where is the world to save us from torture?
Where is the world to save us from the fire and sadness?
Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?
But we are content, on the side of justice and right.
Worshiping the Almighty
And our motto on this island is, salaam.”
I trust each of you to make sure that Adnan, his friend Mohammed, and the rest of the men at GTMO are not forgotten.
January 16, 2013