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THE GUANTANAMO DOCTOR – PART TWO

22-07-2008

As the first military tribunal is set to start in Guantanamo Bay, dubbed by many a kangaroo court, over 100 doctors from 10 different countries have joined Dr David Nicholl to call for the release or a fair trial for Guantanamo’s doctor, Dr Ayman Batarfi.

Last month, I reported the case of Dr Batarfi, a young Yemeni orthopaedic surgeon who has been held for almost 7 years in Guantanamo Bay without being charged with any crime.

There are very real concerns for his health as not surprisingly his mental health has deteriorated significantly.

Since the petition was launched over 100 doctors and other healthcare professionals have added their names from as far afield as Australia and Peru and include members of the House of Lords such as Lord John Rea, a retired GP.

I have been put in touch with Dr Willy Kemmer, a German trauma doctor who met Dr Batarfi in 2001. Dr Kemmer told me “I met Dr Batarfi before 9/11 in Afghanistan. I worked for a German NGO ‘Hammer Forum’.

"He applied for a job with us. Later I met him again in the Indira-Gandhi Childrens Hospital with 'Al Wafaa'.  They helped refurnish the operation theatre facilities and Intensive Care Unit. My NGO tried to cooperate with WAFA and did so ever with the Emirate (Taliban) Government.

"It is the Northern Alliance are the war lords, drug dealers and thieves (stole my car and looted my house in Kabul) now partners of the US-Army and CIA."

Dr Kemmer has sworn an affidavit in support of Dr Batarfi’s case. As yet no date for a tribunal or trial of any kind has been set for Dr Batarfi’s case.

Dr Batarfi’s description of alleged torture includes sodomisation in Bagram airbase and the use of the ‘reverse strappado’ technique (originally devised by the Spanish inquisition) by interrogators.

His description is entirely consistent with a report last month by Physicians for Human Rights “Broken Lives”.

In this report, Antonio Taguba, the retired major general who investigated abuses in Abu Ghraib stated “There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

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