Guantanamo Diary, the memoirs of a prisoner there, has just been published in twenty countries. In the USA, government authorities seized this book, classified it as a military secret and locked it up for six years in a secure Washington, D.C. basement.
The author is Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a 44-year-old Mauritanian. His government took him and turned him over to the U.S. Army in 2001, wrongly suspecting him of taking part in a thwarted attack in Los Angeles in 2000. He was sent to Guantanamo in 2002.
His Diary recounts the hell of daily interrogations to extract false information and force him to admit imaginary plots. He relates physical and mental torture inflicted on a daily basis during his first years of detention: blows and insults, baths of iced and boiling water, being forced to drink salt water, and deprived of sleep and the chance to clean up, deafening music, sexual humiliation, the threat to imprison his mother in Mauritania and make her disappear.
A federal judge ordered his freedom in 2010. But the Obama Administration appealed: Slahi is still a prisoner.
In January 2009 Obama promised to close Guantanamo within a year. But it is still open with 130 prisoners like Slahi who continue to rot in this camp.
The above is slightly edited from a short article in the Feb 2-16 issue of the US fortnightly paper The Spark.
And in New Zealand. . .