Shaker Aamer Suffered Inhuman Cruelty At Guantánamo

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"They bang your head on the wall and then they give you a hot meal.”

Shaker Aamer

The last British resident in Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer, was  finally released on Friday after being detained without charge for almost 14 years.

During his years at U.S. detention centers around the world, Aamer suffered severe physical and mental abuse.

According to a detailed psychiatric report from December 2013 while at Gitmo, Aamer suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

Aamer is now back in the UK and receiving treatment in hospital. He has been urged to adopt a low profile and allow himself a chance to recover as he begins what are expected to be years of rehabilitation.

The Guardian reports:

The psychiatric report, following an examination in December 2013, was written by Dr Emily Keram, who specialises in the treatment of PTSD among former service personnel.

Aamer’s lawyers posted the report online last year, while demanding that he be released on the grounds of ill-health.

Keram noted that Aamer was “hyper-focused on controlling aspects of himself and his environment that he is able to influence … as an attempt to create and maintain some sense of personhood, dignity, and autonomy in conditions that erode one’s sense of their humanity and self-governance.

“In addition to the psychiatric symptoms … Mr Aamer has suffered a profound disruption of his life, dignity, and personhood. His world is severely constricted, with little opportunities for autonomy and meaningful human interaction.”

Aamer, now 48, gave Keram a detailed account of the manner in which he had been severely mistreated while at two US detention centres in Afghanistan, and at Guantánamo, where he had been held without charge since February 2002.

Shaker Aamer
Shaker Aamer

At Bagram, north of Kabul, he says he was beaten, threatened, kept naked and deprived of sleep for 11 days. “You ask yourself: ‘Are they really trying to hurt me or are they trying to help me?’” he told Keram. “You can’t tell any more. They bang your head on the wall and then they give you a hot meal.”

At Kandahar, Aamer said, one US interrogator showed him a small kindness, heating up food for him, and then said that he was going to rape his five-year-old daughter. After the years of abuse, Aamer told Keram, “I can’t tell cruelty and kindness apart”.

Keram reported that “at numerous times during the five-day evaluation he became visibly agitated and interrupted himself when discussing the severe maltreatment he’s experienced. At those times he either stopped talking or repeatedly engaged in apparent efforts to distract himself from painful and disturbing memories by suddenly and loudly singing.”

One song that Aamer frequently sang to distract himself was Eurythmics’ hit single Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

One of Aamer’s lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith, has said that Aamer wants to see an open and effective inquiry into the UK’s role in the rendition programme that resulted in the kidnap and torture of terrorism suspects after 9/11.

The British government shelved an inquiry that was being conducted by an appeal court judge, and instead asked Westminster’s intelligence and security committee to conduct an inquiry, hearing evidence in secret.

Edmondo Burr
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