London – As today marks the launch of the US’s dubiously named “Operation Enduring Freedom” invasion of Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, CAGE calls for the immediate release of the remaining Afghan prisoners still being held at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
Despite the signing of a peace deal and several prisoner releases over recent months as part of historic peace talks, the United States continues to hold Asadullah Haroon and Muhammad Rahim without charge or trial at Guantanamo, the prison that has become a stain on the world.
The US invasion began with a series of “carpet bombing” campaigns. Over the next nearly two decades the invasion led to a political, economic and moral vacuum that gave rise to widespread corruption and abuse of the vulnerable documented with shattering effect in countless reports.
In December last year, in a series of previously classified interviews, U.S. officials acknowledged that the “war” had failed, that top officials had consistently misled the public about their “successes”, and that Washington had wasted billions on the campaign.
Although official reports say that almost 150 000 civilians have died in Afghanistan since 2001, death counts have featured a politicisation of figures. However, on-the-ground research by the independent organisation Physicians for Social Responsibility suggests that the total Afghan death toll due to the direct and indirect impacts of the US-led invasion are well over 220 000. Millions have been displaced, and in this year alone, over 1200 civilians were killed due to the fallout.
Moazzam Begg, outreach director for CAGE, said:
“I was in Afghanistan when the first US cruise missiles and bombs landed. Hubris prevented the Americans from seeking a peaceful negotiated solution with the Taliban. The War on Terror was launched in the name of arrogance, not justice. Today, the only exit out of Afghanistan for America is to talk peace with the Taliban.”
Former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan and ex-Guantanamo prisoner Abdul Salaam Zaeef, said:
“Both Asadullah Haroon and Muhammad Rahim are spending their days in misery at Guantanamo and have no clarity on their future. For Afghans it’s a rather painful story, and more importantly, a rather shameful one. How can we as responsible people ignore this suffering and dire situation? Both brothers are waiting for our help, yet the response is absolutely nothing. They are losing hope”.
“I call on all international human rights organisations to raise the voice of the voiceless. Crucially, I am calling on the authorities in the United States to end the suffering of these individuals. The US recently pressured both Kabul and the Taliban to release prisoners, yet they continue to hold Afghans in detention. It’s now time to release brothers Asaddullah and Muhammad Rahim for the sake of peace.”
Image courtesy of The US Army on Flikr
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)