FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Yemenis Have Moms Too

by JODIE EVANS AND CHARLES DAVIS

He disappeared more than a decade ago, just 18-years-old and teaching abroad, separated from  his family for the first time in life. His mother and father, sick with worry, heard nothing. For all they knew he was dead. Then, one day they opened a newspaper and learned their son was being held in a military prison run by the US of A, accused of – but never charged with – being an enemy of the state.

Were Abdurahman al-Shubati a US citizen, his case would be featured on CNN, his face plastered on television screens next to a graphic listing his days in prison without trial. Some go-getting entrepreneur would be selling yellow wristbands with his name and “#solidarity” printed on them. The president, affecting the right level of empathy for the family and strong but stately anger toward his captors, would be telling us: “Never forget” and “There will be justice.”

But Abdurahman was born in Yemen. Which means he’s not entitled to all those rights said to be endowed to us by our creator, at least in the eyes of the US government. And that means, despite being detained since 2001 and formally cleared of any wrongdoing in 2008, he remains trapped in a prison cell at Guantanamo Bay, slowly starving to death. A combination of racism, Islamophobia and simple guilt by association, have caused the U.S. government to keep him locked up.

Since Barack Obama became US president after pledging to close Guantanamo, which his administration is now seeking to expand, conditions at the military prison have only gotten worse, prisoners there who were once promised their freedom complaining of physical and mental torture. Though he has unilaterally waged war, Obama has decided that he can’t – nay, won’t – unilaterally free them. In fact, the opposite: he issued an executive order creating “a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay.” The Obama administration has unilaterally decided that dozens of men will never be tried so much as in a military tribunal because the evidence against them was obtained through torture, but that they can never be freed because they are nonetheless deemed “too dangerous.”

Not that the US government is too keen on freeing anyone else, either. A US military committee has already determined that Abdurahman, like 57 other Yemenis imprisoned at Guantanamo, should be returned home; that he spent his 20s in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and with which he wasn’t even charged, much less convicted. Obama, however, refuses to release the men, ostensibly out of fear they may seek revenge against their former captors once they return to Yemen.

Understandably, this has created a sense of hopelessness among the 166 people still imprisoned at Guantanamo. More than 100 of them are now on a hunger strike. What other option is left them at this point? Because of their symbolic act of defiance, however, they are being tortured even more – “how dare you embarrass us by dying” – with US personnel force-feeding them to avoid another public relations problem (the United Nations says the practice is simply “unjustifiable”).

“Can you imagine what this is like for a mother?” asks Abdurahman’s own mom in an appeal for his freedom. “To imagine my son in such a loveless place, refusing nourishment to protest his detention; to think of him being painfully force fed – it breaks my heart every second of every day.  Don’t they realize we are human beings, not stones?”

As Mothers’ Day is celebrated this year in the US, a holiday with roots in the fight for peace and justice, Abdurahman and more than a hundred others never charged with crimes will be sitting in prison cells, alone. George W. Bush will get to hug his mom. Michelle Obama will get to hug her children, but the mothers of Guantanamo prisoners don’t get to hug theirs- ever. The best they can hope for is a phone call every two months.

In an 1870 appeal to women of the world, writer and activist Julia Ward Howe – the originator of the Mother’s Day we celebrate – implored her readers to not let their children become complicit in the machinery of war and injustice; to not let them unlearn the lessons they were taught “of charity, mercy and patience”; to not let them “be trained to injure others.”

Here in the 21st century, we need to relearn those lessons and focus on training our children to be instruments of peace, not oppression. Right now, too many kids of American mothers are making mothers in other countries cry. We need to teach them that the practice of compassion and mercy shouldn’t stop at one’s mailbox or a country’s borders. Mothers overseas are in anguish over the kidnapping and loss of their children too.

Join us in calling on Michelle Obama to open her heart to the cries of Abdurahman’s mother and ask Barack to send those cleared home and to expedite the closing of Guantanamo. Join Diane Wilson on her 11th day outside the White House and over 1000 others in a fast of solidarity with the prisoners.

Jodie Evans is the co-founder of CODEPINK.

Charles Davis is a writer living in Los Angeles.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail