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How can we accept a world where an iguana has more rights than human beings? Listen to Moazzam Begg speak about the initial stages of when he was imprisoned as he takes you through a journey of the trauma he experienced.

[As part of the MuslimMatters x CAGE Dhul Hijjah Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo, we bring you a series, Guantanamo Memories, of stories from behind bars.]

The first thing I was told when I was taken in US custody in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan was: “You are the property of the United States and you have no rights.” I quickly understood that they meant business.

I found myself forcefully shaven, spat at, stripped naked with a knife, hooded and hung from the ceiling by my wrists…I was beaten, threatened, and made to believe that the screams I could hear from the room next to me were the sounds of my wife and kids being tortured. I had no way out. Because I was not accused of a crime, I could not clear my name. The Americans made it clear the Geneva conventions didn’t apply to us. US law didn’t apply to us. No law applied to us.

I literally had no rights

But there’s one thing I learnt when I arrived at Guantanamo:

All soldiers, interrogators, or anyone coming to the island prison is briefed: “It is illegal to harm, kill or eat an iguana.”

Unlike us, iguanas were protected under a law called the Endangered Species Act. Breaching this law could result in imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.

By the grace of Allah, I was released after three years of ordeal.

But how can I – how can we – accept a world where an iguana has more rights than a human being? In a sense though, we already have. 779 prisoners have been held at Guantanamo since 2002. Forty of them are still there.


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Don’t forget to join MuslimMatters and CAGE this month as we work to Close Guantanamo. Check out how you can act today

Related Reading:

 – Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

I Saw Him Murdered Saying “Ya Allah!”

I Saw Him Murdered Saying “Ya Allah!”

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Source: Muslim Matters