Roger Silverman was a high school teacher in an “inner city” school in London, UK. Most of his students were from Africa and Asia (including Pakistan, etc.) Here, he reports on a letter that released Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Mozzam Begg, received from one of his captors:
Moazzam Begg is a British Muslim who was visiting his family in Pakistan just before 9/11 when he was kidnapped by the ISI (Pakistani intelligence) and sold for a bounty to the US authorities as a “terrorist”. He was taken to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where he was tortured, and then flown across the world, trussed in an orange jump suit, to the Guantanamo concentration camp in Cuba. After years of protests by his family, friends and neighbours in Britain, he was finally released.
One of his first engagements after returning to Britain was to come to a meeting that I organised in the name of the youth magazine CARBOLIC in the school where I was then working, the student population of which was mostly Muslim. It was an amazing meeting. 200 teenage students attended, at the end of a long school day. People often say that young people today are not interested in what is happening in the world, and have a low attention span. They should have been there. No one was chewing gum; no one was playing with their phone; no one was chatting. You couldn’t hear a chair scrape. Everyone was utterly engrossed for the entire two hours of the meeting. Moazzam Begg said he was amazed at the maturity and solidarity shown; it was the best meeting he had ever attended.
Moazzam Begg has recently posted a message he has received from one of his captors at Bagram. Here it is…
“You might remember me from Bagram Air Base. I was an MP [military policeman] who was charged with your care. You and I talked on a regular basis. You were interested in the book series I was reading. The series was Dune. I grew to like you and respect you. I know you were the person you are now. I feel bad for how you were treated by my fellow soldiers. We are not all like that. I came to Afghanistan to do my job and I hope that I showed you the level of compassion you deserved. I was so worried about you the day you were shipped to Gitmo. To read your book and know that it was not any better there breaks my heart. I am sorry. I wish I could do something to take that pain away. I have always wondered what happened to you and only wished the best for you. You may remember me by the name of *****. My real name is **** ***** and it was privilege to know you.”
Categories: individual stories, Middle East, repression, war
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