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Attorneys File Emergency Motion for Medical Relief, Transfer Out of Solitary Confinement
February 6, 2009, New York – Today, in the case of Khan Tumani v. Obama, attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel sought emergency relief for a young Syrian detained at Guantánamo. Mohammed Khan Tumani, who was 17 when his incarceration began, is in solitary confinement without access to his father, who is also detained at the prison camp, and has been continually subjected to coercive interrogations and physical and psychological abuse. As a result, Mohammed recently attempted suicide and has demonstrated clear signs of mental deterioration.
CCR seeks an independent psychiatric and medical evaluation Khan Tumani, access to his medical records, an end to his abusive interrogations, relief from constant solitary confinement, and access to his father, from whom he has been separated for almost a decade.
“Guantánamo was intended to break, and has broken this young man,” said Pardiss Kebriaei, CCR Staff Attorney who met with Khan Tumani the day after President Obama’s inauguration. “Mohammed’s condition is deteriorating rapidly and he needs help immediately. I am concerned that he may not survive if the conditions of his detention do not change.”
Khan Tumani’s lawyers say they have heard reports from other detainees that he has been banging his head against the walls of his cells for hours at a time and smearing his cell with excrement. In late December, he cut a vein in his left hand. CCR Staff Attorney Gita Gutierrez visited him in early January and saw the slashes on his wrist. Despite strong expressions of concern and requests for information about his mental health, the government has not responded or altered his conditions in any positive way. Khan Tumani continues to endure debilitating abuse at Guantánamo to devastating effect.
In a letter to his attorneys from late December 2008, Khan Tumani wrote:
“A few days ago, on Friday, December 20, 2008, I cut a vein in my left hand until blood poured all over my chest and filled the room. On the wall, I wrote, ‘Country of injustice is America,’ to protest a number of things:
1. Being in this place, having been arrested when I was 17 years old
2. The continuous psychological pressure and the torture that I currently endure
3. The torture endured by prisoners in general, but especially the Syrians.
4. Being apart from my father
5. Current general torture – three days ago, the soldiers handled the Quran.
Of course, there are many other reasons. After I slashed my hand, all my clothes were taken away from me …. I was placed in irons and deprived of food and drink. I slashed my hand (cut the vein) because of psychological pressure and because the interrogator asked me to.”
Khan Tumani has been imprisoned for seven years without charge and has yet to have his habeas challenge heard in court. He left his home in Syria in June of 2001 with nine other family members, including his 67-year-old grandmother, following a decision by his father to leave Syria in search of greater economic opportunity for his family. The family eventually migrated to Afghanistan, but the country was consumed by war soon after they arrived and they were forced to flee. He was 17 years old at the time.
Detained by Pakistanis and then by the United States, the young Mohammed suffered brutal physical and psychological abuse. He was beaten; his nose was broken; his left hand was fractured; he was deprived of sleep; he was subjected to temperature extremes; he was threatened with rendition to Egypt and Jordan and told his family members would be killed or were already dead. He continues to be subjected to prolonged and debilitating isolation.
Khan Tumani is one of approximately 60 Guantanamo prisoners who need protection in a safe third country because they would face persecution if they were repatriated to their home countries, largely because of the stigma of Guantanamo. Khan Tumani and his father have reached out to Germany to provide them safe haven.
Mohammed Khan Tumani and his father are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Gordon Woodward of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, and Eldon Greenberg of Garvey Schubert Barer.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last six years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee.” CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.