I’ve been held at Guantánamo for 20 years without trial. Mr Biden, please set me free | Khalid Qasim


Injustice takes many varieties. After 20 years in US custody, most of that point spent in Guantánamo, you would say I’m an professional.

It might shock you to know that I feel America has an excellent justice system. However it is just for People. Within the circumstances of these like me, justice will not be one thing that pursuits the US. I want that individuals understood how Guantánamo is distinct.

In Guantánamo, the torture we’re uncovered to will not be remoted to the interrogation rooms; it exists in our every day lives. This intentional psychological torture is what makes Guantánamo totally different. There’s interference in each facet of my existence – my sleep, my meals, my strolling.

‘America has a very good justice system. But it is only for Americans.’ Art by Khalid Quasim
‘America has an excellent justice system. However it is just for People.’ Artwork by Khalid Quasim. Illustration: Khalid Quasim

For the primary 9 years at Guantánamo, I used to be held in solitary confinement. It was a harsher, extra violent place then. The communal blocks that opened in 2010 made a distinction, however the deliberate psychological torture stays the identical. The principles change always and without warning. Some guards and a few administrations are extra merciless than others.

Think about you’re watching TV and somebody comes up behind you and begins flippantly kicking you. If it solely occurs for slightly bit, it gained’t be an issue. However say they only maintain kicking you, endlessly, regardless of how usually you inform them to cease, and there may be nothing you are able to do about it. Think about what sort of torture that will be.

The one freedom I’ve right here is to protest. On mixture, I’ve been on starvation strike for seven years. Seven years, feeling that I’m not useless but additionally not alive. I imagine in going through my jailer. They management my physique, however not my coronary heart. They tried to forestall me from studying, however I’ve anyway.

Portray has been my aid. I’m pleased with my artwork. Maybe you’ve gotten seen the few items that I’ve been in a position to get out of right here? After they have been exhibited in New York, I considered the work searching on to the elegant streets and the massive buildings, and of the individuals of their good metropolis wanting in, and the way they can not presumably think about what our lives are like.

(*20*)‘Painting has been my relief.’
‘Portray has been my aid.’ Illustration: Khalid Quasim

However even this aid has been taken from me. My captors refuse to let me ship my artwork out of the jail. They’ve made it more durable to make photocopies of what I paint, so I can’t even present my attorneys. So it turns into a burden. Once I paint I really feel a ache in my coronary heart, understanding that the work I’m doing is rarely going to be seen by anybody else.

When President Obama mentioned he would shut Guantánamo, we have been optimistic and believed him. I hope that President Biden will full that promise. He ought to do every part he can to close the jail – not for us, however for the US.

Different international locations used to look as much as the USfor human rights, they usually don’t any extra – any declare by the US to defend human rights rings hole. When Biden criticized Russia, Putin responded “What about GTMO?” Closing it’s going to start to restore the injury to America’s status.

The golden years of my life have been wasted in Guantánamo. If what occurred to me occurred in America, they might give me hundreds of thousands of {dollars}. As a result of I’m in Guantánamo, as a result of I’m Arab, as a result of I’m Yemeni, no one cares.

However I need you to know I’m a hopeful particular person. I don’t know the place I’ll go, or what I’ll do, however there may be one other life for me, exterior this jail.