Thursday, March 13, 2008

Abdul Hamid Al-Ghizzawi: Murder in slow motion

Read about a seemingly innocent man held without charge in Guantánamo for six years and denied medical care as he slowly dies of liver failure, and consider that a child soldier and Canadian citizen is still languishing in this chamber of horrors while our government does nothing.

So why did military doctors, after learning of Al-Ghizzawi's liver problems in fall 2006, fail to start treating him properly, and instead move this ill man to the isolation of Camp 6? The answers to these questions remain unknown. But Reichen, the expert on liver disease, said in an affidavit submitted to the court on Feb. 19, "It is evident that [military doctors at Guantánamo] withhold information without any military value, misinterpret it and try to withhold treatment from Mr. Al-Ghizzawi."

I continue to visit with Al-Ghizzawi every other month for two days at a time, and monitor his dying. In our meetings we talk about his legal case and his family, but mostly we discuss his deteriorating health. Al-Ghizzawi has become weaker and weaker and at times he is barely able to talk. Each of the last few times that I saw Al-Ghizzawi I thought I would not see him alive again. Our most recent meeting was on Feb. 26 and 27, after which I filed a memorandum updating the judge about his ill health.

To date, five men are known to have died at Guantánamo. One died recently from cancer. The military claims that the four other deaths were suicides, including the death of Abdel Rahman Al Amri, a Saudi man, whose death in May 2007 the military referred to as an "apparent suicide." But the military refuses to release the results of their investigations into those deaths.

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