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Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld

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Synopsis

Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, et al. is a civil action filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of the families and estates of two men who died at Guantánamo Bay in June 2006. The case is against the United States and 24 federal officials, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for their role in the arbitrary detention, torture and ultimate deaths of Yasser Al-Zahrani of Saudi Arabia and Salah Al-Salami of Yemen.

Status

On June 13, 2011, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of the families of two of the deceased, Yasser Al-Zahrani of Saudi Arabia and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salami of Yemen.

Description

 

Talal Al-Zahrani and his son Yasser Al-Zahrani. Yasser was 21 when died at Guantanamo in 2006.

Talal Al-Zahrani and his son Yasser Al-Zahrani. Yasser was 21 when died at Guantanamo in 2006.

Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, et al. is a civil action filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of the families and estates of two men who died at Guantánamo Bay in June 2006. The case is against the United States and 24 federal officials, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for their role in the arbitrary detention, torture and ultimate deaths of Yasser Al-Zahrani of Saudi Arabia and Salah Al-Salami of Yemen. The case was initiated in the District Court for the District of Columbia on June 10, 2008, and the defendants subsequently moved to dismiss. On February 16, 2010, the district court granted the defendants’ motions and dismissed the case. On March 16, 2010, CCR filed a motion for reconsideration of the dismissal on the basis of newly-discovered evidence from four soldiers stationed at the base at the time of the deaths, who describe a high-level cover-up and say they were ordered not to speak out.

 

William Goodman of Goodman & Hurwitz, P.C. and the International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) at the Washington College of Law are co-counsel on the case.

March 17, 2010

Statement by Talal Al-Zahrani responding to newly discovered evidence about his son’s death at Guantánamo

May peace and God’s blessings be upon you,

First, I would like to introduce myself. I am the father Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, a young man who was detained at Guantánamo and who died there. The U.S. government falsely declared that my son committed suicide along with two of his friends, contrary to all the evidence that has surfaced, including testimonies given by some of the prison’s guards.

I wish to address this brief message to President Obama, the U.S. judicial authorities, and the American people.

First, I say: Mr. President, the killing of my son at the hands of his guards and under the supervision of the administration of the detention center is a serious and gruesome crime. It is against all human values and ideals, and whoever covers up this gruesome crime or obstructs the criminal and judicial investigations is a co-conspirator with those who have committed the crime itself.

It is not unusual in any society to find crime and criminals, but it is a catastrophe when a democratic society that raises the banner of defending human rights stays silent in the face of such a crime. Mr. President, neither you nor your government stand to gain anything by covering up this crime, unless you believe in the achievements of former President Bush and his Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and wish to share in their legacy.

I say to the judicial authorities: Why do you refuse to look into these flagrant violations of human rights, even though you hear cases and convict people who commit crimes against animals? Do you really believe that only Americans or Westerners are worthy of being considered human beings with rights?

Finally, American people, I would like to tell you that the reason negative feelings towards America continue to exist is because your government is disregarding people’s feelings and showing contempt and disrespect for the lives of others. Too often it lets criminals—from powerful politicians and decision makers to low-level perpetrators—get away with serious crimes. This damages your reputation and the best values you stand for. I am inspired by the many among you who continue to insist that your government and courts deliver truth and justice to families whose loved ones have died in U.S. detention.

Finally, I hope that no one who reads my words will think that I am seeking sympathy for myself or for my son, for no matter what is done, nothing can bring him back to me. However, it is my firm hope that the criminals are held accountable and brought to justice.

I want to thank all those who remain concerned with fighting human rights violations.

Talal Al-Zahrani
Saudi Arabia 

Timeline

On August 21, 2012, CCR filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.