KOHAT, Nov 11: A former Guantanamo Bay camp detainee has demanded compensation from the US government and help from human rights organizations to overcome a four-year trauma of confinement without trial and lead a normal life again.
Talking to Dawn after returning from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre the 28-year-old homoeophysician, Essa Khan, who can speak and write English, Persian and Arabic, said that he needed money to start a normal life and earn an honourable living for his family because his future and family life had been ruined owing to the detention.
He requested the British government to grant him political asylum because the society and the government of Pakistan were not ready to accept him as a respectable citizen and was making him feel like a leper.
“The people from the US consulate and NGOs did come to sniff at him, consoled and promised to help but never returned. Human rights organizations are not paying attention to my plight and they had no plan to set up rehabilitation centres for the former victims of the atrocities of an unbridled super power,” he said, accusing law-enforcement agencies of treating him like an ‘untouchable’ and a criminal by putting him under house arrest indefinitely.
On his return he had to spend several months in Pakistani prisons in Rawalpindi and Peshawar and presently he was bound to report to the police station in his town once in a day. As a result he could not travel beyond Peshawar because he had been confined to his home district.
“I was happy to be released from the US custody and at home but now it seems that I have just been shifted from one prison to another.
“I am trying to forget the bitterness of the past four years but nobody is ready to help me. My mother become a heart patient after my arrest by the US forces in Afghanistan and needs medical care, which I am unable to provide.”
He said that the government was also helpless to move his wife and a six-year-old son from Mazari Sharif in Afghanistan to Pakistan.
“I urge the Afghan government to allow my wife and son Ahmed Tariq to come to Pakistan. If my problems are not solved by the government soon I will become a lunatic like many other former Guantanamo Bay detainees who are languishing in the mental hospital of the Peshawar Central Prison on their return,” he feared.
He claimed that he moved to Kabul with his friends in 1998 where he incidentally met a lady, Faheema, and fell in love. He married her and shifted to Mazari Sharif where after serving the government for sometime he established his own private clinic. But after the fall of the Taliban regime he was arrested by the forces of Northern Alliance who handed him over to the US on suspicion of spying for Pakistan. Afghan soldiers deprived him of $21,000 impounded his tractor and sealed his clinic. He was then flown to Cuba from Kandahar, Mr Khan claimed.
About the incidents in Kandahar, he said that US soldiers humiliated him and 14 foreigners among them were one David from Australia, Yasir from Bangladesh, Russians and US citizens.
When asked about whether it was true that US soldiers desecrated the Holy Quran at any stage, he said that in Kandahar he and his companions had five copies of the Holy Quran which they wanted to carry with them. One of the US soldiers used to ask his dog to pick up the Holy Quran from a table and bring it to him and the soldier did it repeatedly just to give mental torture to them.
In Cuba they were stripped off their clothes and were forced to see each other naked. The questions they were asked initially were about their origin, purpose of visit to Afghanistan, their religion, links to Al Qaeda and Pakistani agencies, particularly ISI, whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and others which they did not know.
Actually the US interrogators knew more about the institutions and personalities then him.
He regretted that nobody was ready to give him job. He tried to work for a few pharmaceutical companies who after sometime expelled him on directives from intelligence agencies. He claimed that he was being guarded round-the-clock and meted out treatment like an alien in his own homeland.
The Red Cross, HRCP and the home department officials had visited him when he returned three months ago and also promised to help him out and rehabilitate him. But after interviewing him and doing “bogus paper work” they never returned.
Even his appeals to the president of Pakistan and the NWFP chief minister had not been entertained, disgruntled Essa Khan said.