Ex-Guantanamo detainee recalls custody ordeal

 

A former Guantanamo Bay detainee today described being stripped, punched, humiliated, held at gunpoint and forced to watch two people being beaten to death while in American custody.

Moazzam Begg, 43, from Birmingham, spent two years at the notorious detention centre after being transferred from Bagram facility in Afghanistan. He was later released without charge.

Speaking as fellow former detainees prepare to mark the 10-year anniversary of the first prisoners arriving at the naval base, Mr Begg described the knock on the door he heard on the night of January 31, 2002 while living in Pakistan where he was building a school.

"The men stormed in and put a gun to my head, they put my hands behind my back, put a hood over my head and took me in a vehicle. When the hood was lifted I saw they were Americans. They said I would be going to Guantanamo Bay and they were right."

Describing his ordeal whilst in custody, Mr Begg said the worst treatment was at Bagram.

"We were stripped, punched, kicked, humiliated, shaved, thrown into a small converted barn while guns were constantly pointed at our heads.

"Watching the abuse of other people (was the worst), I saw two people beaten to death, one man was subjected to the sounds of a woman he thought might be his wife being tortured in the room next door.

"That is what America had to offer me and I have never been to America."

He said it was impossible to imagine what it was like for Londoner Shaker Aamer, who has been imprisoned at Guantanamo since February 2002 after he was captured by coalition forces during the invasion of Afghanistan.

Mr Begg said: "It is suffice to say if it is not over for us who are free, then what can it be like for those who are really, physically still there?"

He added Mr Aamer's children did not know who he was anymore and that he had never met his youngest child, who was born on the day he arrived at the base.

Mr Begg said he would never have imagined that 10 years later his ordeal would still be such a huge part of his life.

"The name Guantanamo will be associated with me, this place across the Atlantic. I've never been to America, but America has been to me. It has shaped the person I am today."

He added: "This is a story about this country, that was complicit in torturing its own citizens. It was colluding in what happened to us."

Human rights charity Reprieve and awareness group CagePrisoners, where Mr Begg is now director, are marking tomorrow's milestone with the launch of an interactive online timeline that organisers say will include everything that has happened at the base over the past decade.

They hope La Tansa, which means "never forget" in Arabic, will help people maintain awareness about the plight of the 171 prisoners that remain at the base.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Special Needs Teaching Assistant

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Special Educational Needs Teach...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London