By Emad Hassan, released from Guantanamo in June 2015 after 13 years without charge or trial. He was one of the first detainees to go on a peaceful hunger strike in 2007. He remained on hunger strike until the day he was freed. This is a letter in which he described a Forcible Cell Extraction (FCE).
A warm greeting from a cold place, from those who hold the dying embers of a just world here in Guantánamo Bay. For the first time, I am hesitating before I describe the events in this prison. I am shaking physically – as well as mentally – as I write this. It seems that the world has become inured to the events of Guantánamo, just as we, who are trapped here, tire of crying every day.
The cellblock is very quiet, strangely so. One of my brothers has been waiting for the Forcible Cell Extraction (FCE) team to drag him to the hospital. Finally, the FCE team arrived, but they were not the usual people. Today, for the first time, we have seen a special group with a particular mission.
He was lying on his bed, holding his hands out to cooperate in the inevitable shackling. But today it would be different. As the cell door opened, the FCE team poured in. God have mercy! I thought to myself. The first member of the team was thrusting a shield. He smashed my brother in the face, and he screamed. That was just the beginning.
This blow was not anticipated. One of the team grabbed his head and again I heard him scream. Two more took his legs and pushed the shield aside as another two took his hands.
He began to struggle. He could not stay quiet after the initial beating and he began to resist.
One of the soldiers used the pressure point below the jaw to apply pain. He cried out “Why do you choke me?”
He was fighting for breath. One of the team shouted “Stop resisting!”
He cried back “Whether I resist or comply, you are still beating me.”
They twisted his wrist so harshly that, we discovered later, the left one was broken, and the right was badly swollen. They flipped him on his stomach. I could not keep watching. I banged on my metal cell door, shouting, but the soldiers were just watching. They were not through. He later described to me how his hands became numb.
I covered the glass on my cell door. The guards told me to remove it, but I refused. Then they burst into my cell too, shackled me, and dragged me out. They ransacked my cell and took everything but my Isomat.
Meanwhile, his torment continued. Eventually, they brought him back to his cell, kneed his back with their full weight, and shoved him down. Five hours later he still could not move his finger, his hand, or his leg.
“Every nerve, every vein, every muscle seems to be screaming with me,” He told us.
That night I could not close my eyes.
I could not sleep. I could neither laugh nor cry.
I could only pray.