Freed, Faces of Guantanamo

Around 130 Afghans have been detainees in Guantanamo and more than 350 have been detained in the main US bases on Afghan soil, in Bagram and Kandahar. In general, those who had been freed expressed during the interviews their sense of absolute frustration. They are still suspected by the Americans, but also by the Afghan government which, having initially detained them as a preventative measure, has now released them. They have received no explanations or apologies. Ahmad Nasim, one of those we interviewed, explained that it is dangerous for them to leave their home villages since the Taliban know who they are and suspect they may be acting as agents working on behalf of the foreign troops. For them, the danger is no longer just in Guantanamo, it is also now in their very homes. They are, in short, victims of the war that has swept their country for more than 30 years and which does not only hit those who are on the frontline.

 The American prison in Guantanamo Bay today houses some 180 people accused of committing acts of terrorism. Since January 2002, more than one thousand detainees have passed through this detention centre on the island of Cuba. Almost half of them have subsequently been freed without being charged. The prisoners are in a kind of legal limbo, lying outside the jurisdiction of US legislation and without any kind of international protection that would guarantee their status as prisoners of war. They are tried by Military Tribunals. Entry to the base is prohibited to all humanitarian organisations. Only the International Red Cross is allowed to visit Guantanamo Bay on a regular basis.