Why Close Guantánamo? A Dead Man's Poem Speaks

September 12, 2012

Adnan Latif guantanamo prisoner
Click above to read the full article on Adnan Latif in our 2007 magazine

Adnan Latif died at Guantánamo on Saturday, after being held over 10 years without charge—despite a judge’s order that he be released.

Latif protested his treatment with a hunger strike and poetry; these lines were cleared by government censors and serve as a tragic reminder of the urgent need to end indefinite detention and close the prison:

“Hunger Strike Poem”

They are artists of torture,
They are artists of pain and fatigue,
They are artists of insults
and humiliation.
Where is the world to save us
from torture?
Where is the world to save us
from the fire and sadness?
Where is the world to save
the hunger strikers?

What happened to Adnan Latif?

  • He was held for over 10 years without charge, even though he was reportedly recommended by U.S. officials for transfer out of Department of Defense custody in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
  • He alleged that he was held in solitary confinement for the majority of his detention at Guantánamo, and that he was beaten, strangled, abused and denied medical care.
  • In 2010, a federal judge ruled that Latif’s detention was unlawful and that he should be released. But the Obama administration appealed, and Latif lost.
  • On June 11, 2012, the Supreme Court declined, without comment, to hear Latif’s appeal, and he remained held without charge, hopeless about resolution of his case.

Latif’s attorney, David Remes, said “He was so fragile, he was so tormented that it would not surprise me if he had committed suicide. However you look at it, it was Guantánamo that killed him.”

Moving forward

There was always another path available to the U.S. government for handling Adnan Latif and other detainees–and for ensuring justice for the September 11 attacks–one without the human rights violations of indefinite detention, kangaroo courts and abuse: fair trial or release.

It’s not too late for the U.S. government to change course: either charge and fairly try the Guantánamo detainees in U.S. federal court, or release them to countries that will respect their human rights.

Take action

Send a message to President Obama right now on behalf of another Guantánamo detainee held for over 10 years without charge: Shaker Aamer.

Note: Amnesty International long campaigned on Adnan Latif’s case, calling for him to be either charged and fairly tried, or released. He was to be included in Amnesty International’s global letter writing marathon this December 10th, held every year to mark Human Rights Day. Email [email protected] for more information about how you can take part in this important event and help end human rights violations in the U.S. and around the world.