Yearly on September 11, People and the worldwide neighborhood are reminded of the assaults on the World Commerce Heart and people who died in New York Metropolis, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. The two,977 lives of varied religions, nationalities and ethnicities are rightfully assigned a price. We’re referred to as on to recollect them and mourn their loss, a stark distinction from the lives of individuals like me — victims of the “conflict on terror” whose tales the USA has deliberately labored to erase.
Whereas I take part mourning the lives misplaced on 9/11, I additionally mark the day after — 9/12, when the U.S. authorities started its plans to launch a seemingly infinite conflict costing greater than $8 trillion and resulting in more than 900,000 direct deaths throughout 85 international locations, and disappearing and imprisoning tens of 1000’s of males, together with myself.
In a quiet, rural village nestled amid the rugged peaks of Yemen’s western mountain vary, the world I knew earlier than 9/11 was confined to the boundaries of my humble environment. The information I possessed concerning the bigger world past was merely theoretical, gleaned from the pages of geography and historical past textbooks.
Till the age of 13, my understanding of the world was restricted to what I might think about from these pages. The world was considered one of innocence, curiosity and hope. It was a world the place I had simply begun to glimpse the richness and variety of the worldwide neighborhood, a world that impressed goals of exploration and understanding. Little did I do know that my life was about to take a dramatic flip, introducing me to a actuality far past the confines of my village.
The aftermath of 9/11 modified my life in methods I might by no means have imagined. Following these occasions, I discovered myself swept away to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the place I used to be branded a terrorist and extremist, and dehumanized and lowered to the serial quantity “441.” The nightmare that adopted included being certain in chains, hooded and subjected to torture. Suffice it to say, Guantánamo taught me what Islamophobia-laced authorities abuse seems to be and seems like.
Whereas I had by no means been naive to the damaging views some individuals held of Muslims, the U.S.’s complete lack of regard for our humanity and dignity taught me that no matter good issues I believed have been potential from the U.S. may very well be equally matched by the dangerous issues. The U.S. used my case and people of the opposite detainees to point out the world that it might punish Muslims with no accountability in any respect — as long as the nationwide safety state deemed it obligatory for the “safety” of the U.S. public. U.S. authorities officers typically discuss all of the sacrifices their nation has made in service to different international locations, together with Muslim-majority international locations, with out telling you what number of of our lives they’ve sacrificed to keep up this façade.
Guantánamo was one of many important websites the place abuse of Muslims was perfected — a website that exemplifies what it means to excuse human rights abuses in opposition to demonized “others.” At present, there are 16 detainees who have been cleared for transfer however who’ve continued to languish behind bars below law-of-war detention due to a system that was designed to vilify and deal with Muslims as inherently responsible.
After lastly being transferred out of the Guantánamo black gap after 14 years, I not had any pretenses about how I’d be handled as a Muslim — particularly after being stigmatized as being a “terrorist.” However I remained hopeful that the leaders who as soon as justified my imprisonment and abuse with political rhetoric and concern can be referred to as out and held accountable, and that I wouldn’t be deserted upon launch. I used to be fallacious.
Regardless of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s damning report on Central Intelligence Company’s detention and interrogation applications and widespread documentation of torture and abuse, little has been finished to reconcile or rectify the harm finished to prisoners like me and different victims of the conflict on terror. As a substitute, we’ve been deserted, forgotten and erased. I’ve realized that U.S. politicians’ calls to recollect tragedy are confined to their very own and by no means prolong to the victims of its systemic and rampant violence.
A number of years after my switch, I’ve continued to study what it means to be a survivor of U.S. state violence. This consists of the information that I must persist in calling out this nation’s abuses till I, and survivors like me, get the justice that’s long gone on account of them.
However what would justice even appear to be? Justice, partially, would imply that anybody who condoned, justified, and/or participated in human rights abuses can be held accountable. It signifies that survivors can be given compensation to revive their lives to some semblance of normalcy, and reparations to account for the violence they suffered. It signifies that there would lastly be an acknowledgement of wrongdoing in order that our tales of hurt and violence turn out to be a part of our understanding of this sordid chapter in U.S. historical past.
Lastly, justice would imply that when the U.S. calls on individuals to “By no means Neglect” the victims of the 9/11 assaults, that they also remember us — the victims who proceed to face violence and the survivors caught within the violent aftermath of the conflict on terror.
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