At the beginning of April, my youngest son turned eleven. I am amazed by how much changes in eleven years, from a totally dependent human being to an increasingly self-reliant individual. 4,015 days - a lifetime.
For Samir Naji Al Hasan Moqbel, the same eleven years is a world of difference, a world of hurt. He has been imprisoned at Gitmo for longer than my child has lived, without charges, without trial. For him, nothing much has changed and I would imagine the time has crawled by with every minute being creeping up like a long awaited event. That's 1,440 minutes in a day, 5,781,600 minutes a year of futility, hopelessness, despair.
My son was astounded with every new discovery whether it be a bug, sand or the first snowflake, everything was an event, life was full of promise. Samir Naji Al Hasan Moqbel discovered how hopelessness was a bottomless pit, it was the gift that kept giving and giving, robbing one's dreams, future, and life.
When seconds marking time are noticeable and painfully endless, torture is no longer required. When in each and every second one prays for death as a viable alternative to life, to end one's human suffering, to affect change regardless of the outcome, we have done much more than commit murder. We have effectively killed the spirit of a fellow human being, robbed them of their soul leaving behind an empty vessel locked within a black hole of despair.
At Gitmo, as it is so fondly referred to, an estimated 40 detainees are non violently protesting their questionable, illegal imprisonment through self imposed hunger strikes.
" Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted ,to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray."Adding insult to injury, not only the last shred of dignity is annihilated, a seriously religious man is denied the fundamental, basic human right to pray, "the longing of the soul", extinguishing the little that remained.
Let's make no mistake, Samir is not being painfully force fed stemming from some misguided belief in the sanctity of human life. I am certain that his jailers, the military and American government would be more than happy with the deaths of Samir and his of co-detainees. They are an embarrassment to the most powerful man in the world, the man who became the first African American President of the United States, Barack Obama who swept into office in 2008. It is bad enough to imprison human beings denied due process, but how would it look if the "greatest democracy" in the world have the proceeds of the "war of terror", men without charged of any crime, die through their own will.
18,980 days, 27,331, 200 minutes and 1,639,872,000 seconds have passed, along with the death of hope and change. I believed in hope and change. I believed in the restoration of democratic governance, a return to the rule of law. To Samir Naji Al Hasan Moqbel and his co-detainees, there are things worse than death.