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Father of Gitmo detainee rejects empty body of son


By Abdul-Aziz Oudah

SANA’A, Yemen Observer- “The corpse is empty,” Sheikh Abdullah al-Salmi says of his son Salahu al-Din, brought dead from Guantanamo Bay, and adds that prior to burying his son, he first wants to see a closure of what he calls “the grave of the alive people.”

In a press conference, at the headquarters of the family’s lawyers, the National Organization for Defense of Rights and Freedoms (HOOD), al-Salmi said his son was killed by the Americans.

“I can’t receive an entirely empty body. I don’t mind if it is buried or not. He is alive nearby his God,” he says. Commenting on the claims that his son took his life himself, he inquired “should the hangman be the doctor as well, should the perpetrator be the judge as well?”

Al-Salmi said he should be congratulated for the martyrdom of his son and the American people should be given condolence for the death of their conscience. He called on them to “stand accountable for their acts and not turn Arabs and Muslims into foes. He warned them of “awakening the sleeping Islamic giant.”

He appealed to the United States to regain control of what he called the “Black House” and force it to shut down the covert jails of the “alive people” which he called a shame on every American.

Dr. Najib Ghanem, the chairman of the Health Committee in the Parliament said the corpse of Salahu al-Din was handed over to Yemen but was missing major bodily organs such as the heart, the kidneys, livers and the blood vessels.

This makes it difficult to know the main cause of death. He called for the participation of international autopsy experts in trying to identify the cause of death.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Naji Allaw the president of HOOD organization, mentioned his evidence that Salahu al-Din and his two fellow inmates didn’t kill themselves saying: “Usually, the cause of death in prisons is killing, let alone when the prisoner is classified as a combatant enemy in Guantanamo. Basically, the cause of death is killing until proven otherwise”.

Allaw demanded an international probe into the incident. “We appeal to the conscience of the world to close this jail and other jails, some of which are in the Arab and Islamic worlds”.

“All indications are that Salahu al-Din didn’t kill himself. The Americans dissected the body in a way that makes it very hard to trace any signs of torture or cause of death. There should have been international experts dissecting him or at least a dissection in the presence of Yemeni experts. Besides, the Guantanamo jail is designed in a way that doesn’t allow the prisoners to be able to inflict any physical harm to themselves in any way.”

He adds that since Americans themselves know that the prisoners are devout Muslims what seek paradise, there is no way of suspecting them to have been the killers of themselves. “Devout Muslims will not choose to go to an eternal hell that they know to be the fate of every one who kills himself.”

Allaw said he was not defending the mistakes that he or other inmates might have committed before he was taken to the jail, but he is defending the right of the prisoner as a human who has rights in all conditions.

“It is in the interest of the United States to close this jail, which entrenches hatred for the administration and the people of the United States.”

He said that there are other Yemeni prisoners who are jailed incommunicado; Yasir al-Salmi, the brother of Salah, Abdul-Rahman al-Nashiri and others.

MP Ali Ashal said the parliament can do a lot, adopting the cases of Yemeni prisoners in Guantanamo, who are the second largest number from one nationality. He charged the parliament of being a deteriorating institution that doesn’t really have authority over its decisions.

“The function of the government is feeble when it comes to adopting the cases of Yemenis jailed in Guantanamo. He recited previous failures of the parliament to follow up with the implementations of pledges the ministers made in the parliament.

Sakhr al-Wajih, another MP in the parliament launched a harsh assault on the committee of human rights in the parliament. “They make outrageous claims that they are concerned for human rights.” He called on the family of al-Salmi to hold a sit-in before the parliament to oblige the human rights committee to handle their case responsibly.

Al-Wajih attacked the government for receiving the corpse without probing into the cause of the death.

“Does the Yemeni government consider these prisoners Yemeni citizens or combatant enemies?” he inquired.

“If it considers them Yemeni citizens, then all its attitudes towards their case suggest otherwise,” al-Wajih adds.

The father of the martyr, as he prefers to be called, and his family were not immediately allowed to see the body of Salah--only a day after the arrival of the corpse, by permission from the public prosecutor, as that is a sensitive matter according to a HOOD official.

“The body is, however, likely to be not conducive to autopsy when the international forensic experts arrive for re-dissecting him,” Ahmed Arman, the secretary of the National Organization for Defense of Rights and Freedoms (HOOD) said.

“The body in one of the Sana’a hospital is not in a temperature less than 50 degrees below zero, which means it can’t be suitable to dissect appropriately.”

HOOD the lawyers of Salah’s family will be taking a legal action against the US administration on behalf of Salah’s family.

The US flew back to their home countries the bodies of three detainees, one of whom was the Yemeni Salah, who it said committed suicide at the Guantanamo prison by hanging themselves with clothes and bed sheets on June 10. They are the first prisoners to die at the controversial camp since it opened in 2002 at the US naval base in Cuba.

On June 15, attorneys and legal experts have accused the George W. Bush administration of deliberately ignoring mounting evidence of psychological and mental health problems among prisoners at Guantanamo Bay despite more than 40 previous suicide attempts.

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